By Jackson Masiel,
Live-action talking animals have never been my thing, but I tried to give Raja Gosnell a chance. “Show Dogs” is the Gosnell’s newest addition to his personified-canine repertoire, and it has not made a graceful entrance.
Show Dogs stars Will Arnett as Frank, a human FBI agent, and Ludacris as Max, a Rottweiler working for the NYPD. After an unfriendly first meeting, the two become partners and set off to bust an animal-trafficking ring.
The plot is a bit confusing from the get-go. The primary mission of Frank and Max is to investigate a dog-show that is supposedly a front for the operation. But why? And why is there an undercover FBI agent already in place as an animal-groomer?
Another problem is confusion among the character’s relationships. From the get-go, it almost feels that the characters know each other, like a whole world was brewing before the opening scenes that the audience is never privy to. Is Max a crime-fighting veteran? Do his human counterparts understand the English that he and other animals in the movie speak? Even after the final credits rolled, I could not begin to answer these questions.
To make matters worse, several attempts at stale humor and even an awkward canine romance scene left me feeling embarrassed for the movie–in a packed theater of 3.
That isn’t to say the movie didn’t have its occasional charm or bright-spot. The ability of a Rottweiler to best the pretentious show dogs in the agility events left me with a feeling of satisfaction. Moreover, the glimpses of the Las Vegas atmosphere were well-presented and immersive. Lastly, the relationship development between Max and Frank as the movie progresses leads to a fairly child-friendly concluding message. Let’s just hope our kids don’t go to this film for artistic inspiration.