- Review by Ruth Marron
Raja Gosnell marks the summer of 2018 with a reliable family film that offers us a satisfying watch, but not one without a few hitches. For a filmmaker that previously worked on the set of Mrs, Doubtfire and Scooby-Doo, his new feature, Show Dogs, pales in comparison and finds itself in the depths of mediocrity, departing vastly from his usual dependable form. It is fair to say that Show Dogs is bound to be seen only by infant dog-lovers for its theatrical release having been lured in by the bombastic trailer or to gather dust on DVD shelves everywhere. Perhaps both for an unlucky few parents.
Show Dogs chronicles a loose-cannon police dog by the name of Max, voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, on the hunt to take down an animal smuggling-syndicate on the loose in New York City. Max inevitably teams up with FBI officer, Frank, played by Will Arnett, and the two set off on their adventure to Las Vegas undercover as a professional dog show contestant and handler duo. Natasha Lyonne, known better as Nicky Nichols in Netflix’s hallmark series, Orange is the New Black, is introduced as a fellow FBI agent-cum-dog handler employed to offer her canine expertise to Arnett. A romance ensues between handlers and respective dogs alike adding a heartwarming element that ought not be sniffed at, offering an effective extra layer to the film which works well to compliment the main plotline rather than to push the film to overstay its welcome.
Much to my surprise and delight, RuPaul Charles, drag queen of the universe makes a cameo in the film as the voice of a regal dog with intense attitude. In fact, Show Dogs includes a whole host of well-known actors who lend their voices, including Alan Cummings, Stanley Tucci and Jordin Sparks, all working as a team to insert formative lessons for the benefit of the young intended audience with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. That said, Show Dogs isn’t a film that falls at every hurdle. It is thoroughly engaging and crafts a range of subplots which work to expand upon the main story as well as managing to offer a few laughs to the audience for the duration of the film. Show Dogs is no tour-de-force of filmmaking, not that it pretends to be, but it offers the viewer a light watch with a well-rounded plot, as well as a dry-witted panache that is pleasing to the comedic repertoire of any age group.