Raja Gosnell, director of the Scooby Doo movies and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, certainly has pedigree when it comes to making pooch pictures. His latest effort, Show Dogs, is by no means a masterpiece but should not be hounded: those in search of cultured canine features can look to Isle of Dogs; if you’re in the market for ninety minutes of talking dogs fighting crime and not much more, Show Dogs won’t leave you barking up the wrong tree.
In order to uncover an illegal rare animal smuggling scheme, FBI agent Frank, played by the affable Will Arnett, is reluctantly partnered with NYPD Rottweiler Max, voiced by rapper Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges. Frank and Max are sent undercover at a prestigious dog show to sniff out a stolen panda and track down the trafficking ring before they can strike again. Aided by pampered Papillon Philippe (Stanley Tucci), a veteran of the pup pageant circuit who has fallen on hard times, Max must shed his macho mutt persona and be willing to appeal to both hound and human if he stands a chance of cracking the case.
Please don’t believe you will be blown away by this film: the script writing is lackadaisical; the film meanders through its second act; and it is plain to see that for all the cast, the motivation for involvement was the paycheque.
Although it is an almost impressive feat for a relatively short movie to feel long, if a film is going to be churned out in the name of family fun then there are worse ideas than adding in a few talking dogs to ease along proceedings. Similarly, if I’m an actor choosing to chow down on cash, I would much rather do it as part of a crime-fighting canine company than star in a dreary Adam Sandler Netflix Original.
Show Dogs is easy to watch and quite good fun. It’s not setting the cinematic world alight by any means: it’s ruff around the edges and you won’t be howling with laughter. You may not wolf down this feature, but if you’re looking for something that requires minimal brainpower to follow, Show Dogs may be a pleasantly surprising treat.