Here’s another live-action talking animal film. Those always end well.
Synopsis: Max, a macho, solitary Rottweiler police dog is ordered to go undercover as a primped show dog in a prestigious Dog Show, along with his human partner, to avert a disaster from happening. (IMDB)
Starring: Will Arnett, Natasha Lyonne, and Ludacris
Writers: Max Botkin and Marc Hyman
Director: Raja Gosnell
Rating: G (Canada)/PG (United States)
Running Time: 92mins
For showtimes and more, check out Show Dogs on movietimes.com.
Live-action talking animal films have had a precarious history and this new live-action talking animal film is not going to change that. These films have been typically geared towards children but the problem with that is that it will create more questions by the end due to a slightly unsettling fascination with dog privates. Most adults, however, will find themselves bored and/or in a semi-permanent state of cringe while watching obnoxious characters deliver terrible and mostly unfunny dialog whilst being loud like being loud somehow makes it funnier.
Nothing about this film should come as much of a surprise to anyone as the film’s humor consisted of the lowbrow humor we’ve come to expect delivered in such an annoying way that makes it even less funny. The humor was also quantity over quality since the characters never seemed to stop talking. The story wasn’t overly original either, pretty much a generic detective/buddy cop film with the added wrinkle of it being a man named Frank (Arnett) and a dog named Max (Ludacris) paired together. The derivative and contrived nature of the story took away most of the fun that could’ve been had and made it a chore to watch.
While the film’s saving grace could have been the animals themselves, they all looked cheap for the most part. The lip-syncing was distracting at times and other movements looked clumsy as the story often required them to do things that dogs don’t normally do for whatever reason. Also, a major focal point of the story was a baby panda that reeked of obvious CGI. The animal characters were unbearable but the paper-thin human characters weren’t that much better. They served more as plot devices than actual characters as the story belonged to the animals more than it did the humans. The film would have been better served if the opposite was the case.
The acting was mediocre at best but the majority of the blame belonged to the atrocious script and mediocre direction (What would you expect from the director of the Scooby-Doo live-action movies and Beverly Hills Chihuahua?). Regardless of the voice cast assembled, the voice acting is only as good as the material and in this case, the material was terrible. This carried over to the human actors who delivered marginally better performances despite looking just as lifeless as the animals. Arnett seemed disinterested as Frank while having little to no chemistry with Max. Lyonne as a dog trainer named Mattie seemed just as disinterested. None of the humans played off the animals very well at all as they felt at odds with one another which should not happen in a film like this.
Overall, this was a terrible live-action family film that surprisingly got a theatrical release. There’s not much to be had here with a derivative and unfunny story full of cheap-looking, loud, and obnoxious animal characters and lifeless human ones as well as an atrocious script and mediocre direction so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.