Show Dogs

Every once and awhile a film comes around that garners so much bad press in a short time that the controversy spreads around the world like rapid fire. Show Dogs is the most recent bearer of this deserved vitriol, because of original material in the film suggesting normalcy of tactics of child grooming used by sexual predators. Instead of choosing to pull the film completely from theatres, the studio with their tail between their legs decided to edit out the objectionable scenes and re-release the movie. This decision failed to remove the stigma attached to this production, but did the edits do anything to improve on the quality of the film before being released back to audiences with young children? 

From director Raja Gosnell who brought the cinematic gems like Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Scooby-Doo and the first two Smurf films, the new release in the world of talking animals is the world of show dogs. Frank (Will Arnett) is an FBI agent who has partnered with the NYPD’s canine law enforcement Rottweiler, Max (voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) to save the kidnapped baby panda, Ling-Li. The combined forces have determined that the Panda-nappers are planning on selling the black and white cub to the highest bidder at the upcoming Canine Invitational dog show in Las Vegas.

What this elite force of crime fighting masterminds think to do is to enlist Max in the dog show and have Frank be his handler. The crime-fighters team with Matte (Natasha Lyonne), a veteran dog groomer who assists them in wading through the competitive world of show dogs.  While the humans try to work through the owners to discover the thieves, Max recruits the help of canine experts who show him the ropes of this unfamiliar world of pampering and preening. Both sides of law enforcement work to discover the location of the baby panda and in the meantime determine how they can remain in the competition long enough to not only apprehend the kidnappers, but potentially win the title of ‘Best in Show.’

The stink that this production carries is reminiscent of a dog rolling around in excrement and rubbish for days; the smell will not go away despite everything they try to do. Anyone with any awareness of this ill-fated project will know right where the edits occur and the choppiness of these cuts make this film go from bad to worse. Even without the controversial scenes included, it is a wonder why the studio did not send this off to the DVD doghouse and try to recoup some of the cost by allowing people to stream the film. 

Pushing the controversial elements of this project to the side and judging this film on its merits only means ranking this as one of the worst movies of 2018. The writing and direction lacked any originality and began to feel like a spilling together of every other dog-talking film from the past. 

The storyline makes little sense and moves at such a ridiculous pace that talking animals are not that strange of a concept. To believe that this pair could convincingly enter this show without any question, much less serve as believable law enforcement becomes a painful experience. 

The irony of the script is that the writers keep referring to the 1989 Tom Hanks film, Turner and Hooch, but proves to be a better option than Show Dogs. This film is a low point in Will Arnett’s career which is even more disappointing when one of the high points of his resume is the mockumentary, Best in Show. This latest project deserved to be scooped up with the rest of the doggy poo and put in the bin. Woof!

What should parents know about Show Dogs?  

Any self-respecting parent will avoid this film. Despite the controversies surrounding this film, this film is bad beyond words.

There are other great options out there for families this season. Incredibles 2, Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation, and Ant-man and The Wasp are better options this season for families. 

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Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.