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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Show Dogs movie review: everything is awful

Show Dogs red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
Embarrassingly bad CGI; pratfalls; genital humor; denigration of cat ladies; horrible clichés and stereotypes. This is the cinematic equivalent of stepping in dog poop. You know, for kids!tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, male screenwriter, male protagonist
(learn more about this)

Miss Congeniality, but for dogs. Did we need this? We did not. Director Raja Gosnell has previously perpetrated two Smurfs movies and two Scooby-Doo movies, and I guess he felt that he needed to even out the ranks of his terrible talking-dog “comedies” since he only had the one, Beverly Hills Chihuahua. “Nobody makes talking dog movies anymore,” one of the talking dogs in this talking-dog movie explains. And yet here we are.

These are indeed dark times.

It’s funny cuz there’s a dog wearing sunglasses. And dogs don’t wear sunglasses. It’s like the dog has magically become like a human.

It’s funny cuz there’s a dog wearing sunglasses. And dogs don’t wear sunglasses. It’s like the dog has magically become like a human.

Show Dogs is the cinematic equivalent of stepping in dog shit. You know, for kids! Aggressive, disdainful Max (the voice of Chris “Ludacris” Bridges: The Fate of the Furious, New Year’s Eve) is a Rottweiler NYPD officer who teams up — reluctantly — with aggressive, disdainful FBI agent Frank Mosley (Will Arnett: The Lego Batman Movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows) to hunt down an exotic-animal trafficking ring using a prestigious dog show in Las Vegas as cover. Frank is also reluctant, but not because he’s not trained to work with police dogs or because the FBI has its own canine officers thank-you-very-much or because Max, obvs, doesn’t have jurisdiction in Nevada. But because it’s allegedly funnier when the buddies in the buddy comedy are reluctant, even though they’re basically exactly alike and would be great friends if only they could take turns being the alpha dude. It’s like this movie was constructed via a hastily coded Robert McKee–Mad Libs algorithm.

“Nobody makes talking dog movies anymore,” one of the talking dogs in this talking-dog movie explains. And yet here we are.

There will be multiple references to Turner & Hooch.

The plan is for Frank and Max to go undercover as competitors at what is the most elite dog show on the planet, with no preparation, no experience, no knowledge, and no enthusiasm. We all know that such things are no longer required in 2018, when experts are suspect and truth is dead and everything is awful. So of course they fit in perfectly, with just a little bit of help from FBI consultant dog groomer Mattie Smith (Natasha Lyonne: Antibirth, Girl Most Likely) and a slew of fancy show dogs (the voices of Alan Cumming [Battle of the Sexes], Stanley Tucci [Submission], Shaquille O’Neal [Blended], and Gabriel Iglesias [Ferdinand]). Of course there is a token fancy girl dog, Daisy (the voice of Jordin Sparks), for Max to fall in love with. And Daisy even belongs to Mattie, so when Frank inevitably falls for Mattie, the happily-ever-after will be easy to manage. Isn’t it great when the universe just plops docile, adoring, willing females into the lives of useless idiot males?

Someone please make it stop.

Someone please make it stop.

Here are all the things you will discover in Show Dogs: embarrassingly bad CGI; pratfalls; a dog biting FBI butt; dog farts; testicle humor (multiple instances); a giant movie-long promo for a major hotel on the Vegas Strip that I won’t name because they didn’t pay me to promote them; denigration of cat ladies; horrible clichés and stereotypes. You know — *sob* — for kids!

I almost feel bad for Will Arnett, which in turn makes me uncomfortable: I don’t want to feel bad for him. He made this dog bed for himself, and he can lie in it. But still.

There is one tiny redeeming aspect to Show Dogs, which is that, in the end, Max realizes that, after being absolutely 100-percent awful to everyone around him, from the fancy dogs to Frank, everything actually works out better if you just listen to people who think differently than you do, that sometimes they just might know what they’re talking about. It’s too little too late, and I’m not sure that it will counter all the junk that has come before in the malleable little-kiddie brains this movie is intended for. But Show Dogs could have been worse. Not by much. But still.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2018’s other theatrical releases.

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Show Dogs (2018) | directed by Raja Gosnell
US/Can release: May 18 2018
UK/Ire release: May 25 2018

MPAA: rated PG for suggestive and rude humor, language and some action
BBFC: rated PG (mild bad language, rude humour, violence)

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Oracle Mun

    I think I’ll watch Best in Show again. Better movie about dogs and their humans.

  • Krista Petty

    This movie sends an extremely dangerous message to kids and could be
    harmful to children who have experienced abuse. One of the major
    conflicts the hero dog “Max” has to overcome is being touched in his
    private parts by his handler and the judges. It is a major part of the
    story line towards the end of the movie. Max is taught by another dog to
    go to a zen-like place to just get through the experience so he can win
    the competition. This is the hero’s personal conflict to resolve. It’s
    not just a simple “oops.” While it may be true that dogs go through
    that for dog shows, when writers, directors, and producers humanize
    dogs—they can talk, they can make decisions, they can have emotions—they
    are no longer dogs. They are like humans and our children identify with
    them as such. To promote the idea that someone should be allowed to
    touch your private parts and you should just let it happen and find a
    way to just get through it is a disastrous and irresponsible message to
    send to any viewer, especially children, for whom this movie is
    obviously marketed to. Not only is this movie in bad taste, it could be
    harmful and triggering to a child or adult who may have experienced

  • This had not occurred to me, but you’re absolutely right.

  • Thank you for this comment.

  • Taco Bell

    No comments about the child grooming subtext?

  • As I noted in reply to another commenter here, I didn’t see that. Now that it has been pointed out to me, I certainly do. But how can I include something in my review that did not occur to me until after I wrote that review?

  • Taco Bell

    The same way every other media outlet on the internet handles it… with an edit.

  • Bluejay

    You edit reviews to correct factual errors. You don’t edit them to put in brand-new opinions that you thought of after the fact. If MAJ feels the need to say anything new about the film, she can put up a new post. Or, it can be adequately discussed in the comments section below the film, which is exactly what’s happening.

  • Taco Bell

    There’s no rule that says you can’t provide a section at the bottom that says: “May 23 Update: After reading comments…”, in fact it’s quite common to update articles as new information comes in. Why are you defending this? Seems like a strange hill to die on.

  • Bluejay

    And why are you insisting on it, when she’s not inclined to do it and it’s being adequately mentioned in the comments? Seems like a strange hill for YOU to die on.

  • I don’t edit my reviews to change the content. The issue is mentioned in the comments. That covers it.

  • Why are *you* making such a big deal out of this?

  • Taco Bell

    I just asked why she didn’t mention it. I’m not insisting on it. You said there’s no precedent for it to which I debunked. Nice try with the misdirection, but it didn’t work.

  • Taco Bell

    The comments could have also mentioned aliens. Are you accepting those as official canon for your article as well?

  • Bluejay

    But now you’re suggesting she SHOULDN’T just edit her article based on comments, because aliens. So which is it, take comments into account, or not? Or do you just have to win, no matter what you have to say to do so? And again, why is this such a big deal for you? Have fun dying on your hill.

  • What the hell are you talking about? If you’re suggesting that I have implied that anything mentioned in comments is “canon” (what “canon”?!), then that’s ridiculous. I acknowledged and replied to the comment in question. What is wrong with you?

    I suggest you let this drop. You’re starting to border on trollish.

  • Bluejay

    Thanks for this. Apparently enough people have raised concerns about it that the studio is actually re-cutting the film.


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