Show Dogs May 29, 2018 13:00:07 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on May 29, 2018 13:00:07 GMT -5
Show Dogs (2018)
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Max the Rottweiler (voiced by Ludacris): "this is ludicrous!"
Show Dogs is absolutely abysmal, living up to the quality standard suggested by its insufferable trailers, but it falls into the category of an interesting bad movie thanks to some ridiculous inclusions. It alludes to a vague interconnectedness with other Raja Gosnell-directed atrocities featuring talking dogs (Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Scooby-Doo and its sequel), and its now omitted dog-scrotum fondling scenes make it marginally noteworthy; two weeks ago, it was looking like just another awful kids movie featuring talking dogs. Through it all, however, these minor details don't make this 88-minute venture worth stomaching, even if you use "curiosity" as an excuse.
The film revolves around a macho Rottweiler police dog named Max (voiced by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges), who is tasked with going undercover as a show dog in a prestigious dog show with an FBI Agent named Frank (Will Arnett). The dog show, which takes place in the heart of Las Vegas, has been marked as a hot location for animal-smuggling, with skeevy individuals (one of whom Omar Chaparro) planning on selling a baby panda. During this undercover-op, Max needs to clean up his act and pose as a groomed show dog while his partner, Frank, must pose has his trainer. Max gets tips from Daisy (Jordin Sparks), a pampered Shepherd, Sprinkles (Gabriel Iglesias), a pug, and Karma (Shaquille O'Neal), a philosophical Komondor with an enviable repertoire of success. Frank finds himself getting schooled in the art of finessing at a dog show from fellow trainer Mattie (Natasha Lyonne), whose expertise helps both him and Max remain "believable" in their efforts.
Movies where animals talk are rarely funny. For every rare example of the genre crafting serviceable or even impressive entertainment, such as Cats & Dogs and both Paddington films, there are ample films that club the formula back into the dregs of cinema: Racing Stripes, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Cat in the Hat, Peter Rabbit, Marmaduke, etc. Of those films, Show Dogs takes on the task of some such as Peter Rabbit and Marmaduke, which have the loftier challenge of positing their talking animals in live-action settings. In animation, concealing the nutty idea of animals being able to communicate with humans is better served within the realm where possibility is only limited by one's imagination. In live-action, possibility is limited largely by how pathetically one can rely on animal/human interactions being predicated upon cringe-inducing dialog and slapstick humor, the latter never coming within striking distance of being classifiable as "the good kind."
The other marker of difficulty that makes these live-action/talking animals efforts so challenging is that the human characters are almost guaranteed to be bumbling caricatures dumber than your average canine. This is the case with Will Arnett's Frank, who might as well be a cardboard cut-out seeing as his sole purpose in Show Dogs is that so not all of the film's dialog is coming out of a drooly, slobbery mouth. Arnett is stiff-as-a-board and Lyonne is comparatively lifeless in a role that sidelines her to being the archetypal voice of reason in a film that is in short supply of it. The voice-acting of the dogs is cruelly unfunny too, as if the filmmakers assembled individuals from Hollywood's ever-growing list of competent supporting actors who will never be trusted with a solid leading role in a good movie. You have: Jordin Sparks, Gabriel Iglesias, Shaquille O'Neal, RuPaul, and Anders Holm, Blake Anderson, and Kate Micucci as a trio of talking pigeons because the film couldn't leave even any concept alone, even one probably optioned as a joke.
Gosnell has made a career thanks to the popularity of these obnoxious efforts. He was one of the principle men behind bringing The Smurfs into the real-world, not once, but twice after he remade Yours, Mine & Ours, made Scooby-Doo a short-lived live-action franchise, and launched his directorial career with the Drew Barrymore vehicle Never Been Kissed — the likes of which could very well be the only decent movie on his resume. I must give Gosnell some praise; he has found a niche in Hollywood and Hollywood has found him useful in this realm of cinema. But even this living is not consistent; this is his first film since The Smurfs 2 in 2013.
Show Dogs has recently inspired some controversy due to a pair of scenes that have since been cut from the initial theatrical release (leaving me hope we get an "Unrated Director's Cut" on DVD in a couple months). I've seen both scenes and they're something to behold. One comes when Max is adjusting to life as a show dog impostor, only to be shocked at the fact that he will have his genitals groped and examined by the judges. One of his canine companions implores him to find his "zen place" when this occurs, essentially encouraging him to "check out" when the discomfort begins. The other comes during the third act when the groping actually happens, and passes shortly after Max finds the aforementioned "la la land" to where he escapes. Angry mothers and activists alleged that the scenes would be problematic in the regard they'd encourage children that any kind of assault or harassment done onto them encourages their complacence. While I feel that might be reaching, I'm not sure if the presence of these slightly darker clips creeping into this film is more notable or the fact that not a single joke about cats is anywhere to be heard. The fact that both separate offenses eventually found the cutting room floor are at least something of a blessing.
Co-writer Max Botkin stated that he himself did not write the scenes and that a team of thirteen other people made rewrites/edits to the script. That's not surprising. It'd be more shocking if those thirteen individuals weren't robots of some kind.
So, Show Dogs is a bad movie, but you probably already knew that, and its legacy will live on as one of the second-tier features shown in theaters for summer camps or youth groups, perceived as inoffensive babysitters for rambunctious children, in years to come. Need I remind you that Paddington 2 is one of the year's most charming family comedies? It's much quieter, funnier, and didn't need to be sent back to the editing room because of its tone-deaf sensibilities.
Starring: Will Arnett, Natasha Lyonne, and Omar Chaparro. Voiced by: Chris "Ludacris" Brides, Jordin Sparks, Gabriel Iglesias, Shaquille O'Neal, RuPaul, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson, and Kate Micucci. Directed by: Raja Gosnell.