The latest round of forgettable half term fodder comes in the shambolically canine shaped form of Show Dogs, a film so dull it will have parents across the country lamenting the fact that they had to part ways with their hard-earned money. School holidays, of course, regularly see film studios ready to cash in on the need for familial activities, resulting in an inevitable trip to the nearest multiplex. Offerings range from the joyously life affirming (think of either Paddington or Pixar’s most recent venture Coco) to the wearisome, with this year witnessing James Corden helping tarnish Peter Rabbit’s legacy in one fail bunny-twerking swoop.
A thoroughly soulless and at times woefully ill-judged feature, Show Dogs centres around a bizarre premise that can only be described as the pooch equivalent to Miss Congeniality. NYPD Rottweiler Max (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) reluctantly agrees to team up with FBI agent Frank Mosley (Will Arnett) in order to track down an exotic animal smuggling ring who they believe will strike at the upcoming Canini Invitational, a prestigious dog show based in Las Vegas. The increasingly exasperated pair begrudgingly go undercover as show dog and handler retrospectively, where they are shown the rigorously regimental pre-show grooming ropes by Mattie (Orange Is the New Black’s Natasha Lyonne). A scene that sees Frank gleefully administering a bikini wax to Max is particularly eye-watering.
Will Arnett’s glazed over expression (which lasts for the entirety of the seemingly infinite 92-minute run time) conveys a pleading cry for help whilst simultaneously seeming to look for the nearest exit at any available opportunity. There’s a communal sense of embarrassment from both audience and stars alike.
Director Raja Gosnell is no stranger when it comes to the canine genre, having helmed the live action remake of Scooby Doo and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, yet despite this sufficient experience under his belt, Show Dogs culminates as a joyless hollow husk which serves as nothing more than an elaborate showcase for Las Vegas tourism. This is no surprise given the alleged sponsorships from the NYPD and Caesar’s Palace, both of which feature heavily throughout.
The attempts at humour within Show Dogs range from toe-curling to the out and out weird, from a winking nod to Arnett’s Lego Batman role to dabbing dogs (which painfully scream at trying to get down with the kids). Alongside the flinch inducing efforts at comedy is a range of references that will fly straight over the kids’ heads and yet barely raise a smile from adult audience members. Countless mentions of Turner And Hooch (why incessantly reference an infinitely better film?) and an Aristotle-quoting Komondor named Karma (voiced by Shaquille O’Neal) are just two head scratching examples.
Marred by recent controversy in the US surrounding issues with a subplot which sees Max having to become comfortable with a judge touching his genitals, the film is subsequently being re-edited after pressure from bloggers and groups like including the National Centre on Sexual Exploitation.
Even the sublime Stanley Tucci (who gives an insanely over the top performance as French Papillon Philippe) cannot save the dire abomination. With a premise more inclined for straight-to-DVD purposes, Show Dogs will leave even the most crazed mutt loving individual with their tail between their legs.
Show Dogs is in UK cinemas now.