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Family Movie Review: Show Dogs (PG)

Kernel Rating: half popcorn kernal (0.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG         Length: 92 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 8+. The content of ‘Show Dogs’ is actually quite strange. This movie about an undercover police dog attempting to break up an illegal animal-smuggling ring relies often on humor related to the dog’s genitals and behind, and there’s a subplot focused on how the dog responds to someone touching those parts of his body. It’s weird! Other jokes are also surprisingly adult-themed, including a dog who is shown as a police informant because of his addiction to catnip and another whose trailer subjected him to plastic surgery. Also a romantic subplot with two dogs crushing on each other; some violence, including a shootout and a wild tiger attack; some scary moments, with a dog purposefully acting aggressive and hostile toward others, and other scenes where dogs attack and bite; and some bathroom-related humor, implied cursing, like use of the word “bull,” and use of the word “crazy” as an insult.

‘Show Dogs’ is strange, a sort of canine-centric update of ‘Miss Congeniality’ in which a NYPD officer from ‘the streets’ crashes into the unlikely world of dog shows. It is often adult in its humor and derivative in its plot, and the amount of time this movie devotes to a dog’s private parts is extremely weird.

By Roxana Hadadi

ShowDogs ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewWatching “Show Dogs” is simultaneously uncomfortable and embarrassing. Why was this movie made … for children? Its plot contains no surprises, its characters are flat, and the amount of time this movie devotes to showing a dog having its private parts checked and its butt waxed is really bizarre. Really, really bizarre.

If you took the general idea of “Miss Congeniality” and switched out Sandra Bullock’s no-nonsense police officer with a similarly no-nonsense, tough-talking K9 officer, you’d basically have the entire idea of “Show Dogs.” That’s it. That’s the whole movie. Dog enters a new world that he had previously mocked, learns that not everything about the world is worth mocking, and grows during the process. Throw in some adult-themed jokes—like a rough-looking dog who is a police informant being revealed as addicted to catnip, because having a character with what is essentially a drug problem is super-appropriate for a children’s movie—and that’s basically all “Show Dogs” has to offer. I would be surprised if you laughed more than a few times; the families at the screening I attended certainly didn’t seem to.

“Show Dogs” focuses on the Rottweiler Max (voiced by Ludacris, of “The Fate of the Furious”), who is tracking an illegal animal-smuggling ring in New York City; his investigation runs afoul of another led by the FBI and agent Frank (Will Arnett, of “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature”). (Although we understand everything animals like Max say, the human characters in the film don’t.) Both Max and Frank are intent on figuring out who has been stealing animals like baby pandas and Bengal tigers, so they unwillingly decide to team up and attend the Canini dog show in Las Vegas, where they’ve heard the smuggling ring has currently set up shop.

Max will enter the dog show while Frank pretends to be his handler, but their extreme dislike for each other is getting in the way. So they turn to seasoned dog handler and FBI consultant Mattie (Natasha Lyonne) and prior international dog show winner Philippe (voiced by Stanley Tucci, of “Transformers: The Last Knight”) for coaching as they try to find the smugglers. What ensues is, of course, Frank and Max growing to respect each other while they navigate a world they first looked down upon.

“Show Dogs” has little humor of its own to offer. Instead, it relies on referencing other pop culture (like when Arnett reprises his “LEGO Batman” voice, or when Max and the dog he’s crushing on basically recreate Aladdin and Jasmine’s “whole new world” scene), and Ludacris’s entire performance seems like he’s copying other rappers who have portrayed police officers, like Ice-T on “Law and Order” and Ice Cube in the “21 Jump Street” and “Ride Along” franchises. Dialogue like “I’m not here to make friends; I’m here to find enemies,” “I’m a mutt of many mysteries,” and “How did you get to be so alpha?” “By not caring” isn’t helping matters, either, and the slow-motion used when Max does puppy parkour is just too much.

Maybe “Show Dogs” is supposed to be a satire? Maybe that would explain Philippe telling Max, in all seriousness, “The inspection of the private parts is the hardest part of being a show dog”? Or the maniacal zeal that Frank seems to get out of waxing Max’s butt? Or the fact that the scene where Max’s private parts are inspected is set to the pop song “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO? Almost everything about “Show Dogs” is off, and almost none of it is funny or enjoyable.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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