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Review: Show Dogs is a dog’s dinner, but not entirely unenjoyable

PUBLISHED: 10:18 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:21 24 May 2018

Natasha Lyonne as Mattie, Max (voiced by Chris Ludacris Bridges) and Will Arnett as Frank in Show Dogs. Photo: Entertainment One/Adrian Rogers

Natasha Lyonne as Mattie, Max (voiced by Chris Ludacris Bridges) and Will Arnett as Frank in Show Dogs. Photo: Entertainment One/Adrian Rogers

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Raja Gosnell, director of Beverly Hill Chihuahua, collars a buddy cop movie, which is essentially Miss Congeniality on four legs, with dysfunctional canines replacing the beauty queens.

Max (voiced by Chris Ludacris Bridges) and Will Arnett as Frank in Show Dogs. Photo: Entertainment One/Adrian RogersMax (voiced by Chris Ludacris Bridges) and Will Arnett as Frank in Show Dogs. Photo: Entertainment One/Adrian Rogers

Show Dogs (PG)

**

The crisis in modern masculinity is now so deep it is seeping into talking dog movies.

Max (voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) is NYPD’s toughest police dog but when, in order to crack an international animal smuggling gang, he has to go undercover posing as a contestant in a Las Vegas dog show he is forced to re-examine his values.

As a macho police dog he sees the contestants as silly and superficial but he and his new human FBI partner, Will Arnett, learn to temper their butch ways and appreciate diversity. Did that happen to Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality?

If nothing else, Show Dogs should act as a useful rebuttal to the moderate stirrings of 1980s nostalgia linked to Ready Player One.

The 80s were a horrible time for American movies, a cultural revolution where the decadent and indulgent film artists of the 70s were purged and mainstream moviemaking was reeducated into adherence to a strict new doctrinaire approach.

Daisy (voiced by Jordin Sparks) and Max (Chris Ludacris Bridges) in Show Dogs. Photo: Entertainment One/Adrian RogersDaisy (voiced by Jordin Sparks) and Max (Chris Ludacris Bridges) in Show Dogs. Photo: Entertainment One/Adrian Rogers

Oh, there were the occasional Blade Runner or Back to the Future but otherwise it was all horrible, crank-it-out Simpson and Bruckheimer blueprint pieces, based on pitches of 25 words or less.

This is almost a homage to bad 80s films. The direction is graceless, and it looks horrible and cheap. There’s even an entirely gratuitous destruction of property scene where they drive through a mall.

A running gag references Turner and Hootch, the Tom Hanks dog movie, but perhaps it is closest to the Look Who’s Talking films where Kirsty Alley has a baby with Bruce Willis’s voice.

Show Dogs is a terrible film, but not entirely unenjoyable. Not in a so-bad-its-good way, but because at regular intervals there are some genuinely funny moments. They always strike you as a bit of an affront to their surroundings, but they are welcome.

“Ludacris” Bridges might have thought that it would be hard to find roles more demeaning than being the village idiot of the Fast and Furious gang, but vocing talking dog performances rather becomes him.


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