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MOVIE REVIEW

Show Dogs also known as “Superagente canino,” “Kutyaparádé,” “Show Dogs - Entriamo in scena,” “Wyszczekani,” «Псы под прикрытием»

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for suggestive and rude humor, language and some action.

Reviewed by: Keith Rowe
CONTRIBUTOR

Somewhat Offensive (not recommended)
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Preteens
Genre:
Action Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
2018
USA Release:
May 18, 2018 (wide release)
Copyright, Open Road Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Open Road Films Copyright, Open Road Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Open Road Films

Are DOGS mentioned in the Bible? Answer

People and dogs that protect the public from criminals

Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Copyright, Open Road Films Copyright, Open Road Films
Featuring: Will ArnettFrank
LudacrisMax (voice)—a Rottweiler
Alan CummingDante (voice)—a haughty Yorkie
Stanley TucciPhilippe (voice)—a French Papillon
Jordin Sparks … Daisy (voice)—an Australian Shepherd
Natasha Lyonne … Mattie
Gabriel Iglesias … Sprinkles (voice)—a Pug
RuPaul … Persephone
Shaquille O'Neal … Karma (voice)—a Komondor
Ronni Ancona … Poopsie Chow's Owner
Omar Chaparro … Señor Gabriel
Cristina Dohmen … Kristina Fernandes
See all »
Director: Raja Gosnell
Producer: Open Road Films
Riverstone Pictures [Great Britain]
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Open Road Films. Trademark logo.
Open Road Films

The movie opens in New York City, at night, as police dog Max (voiced by rapper Ludacris) is surveilling the nefarious activities of some animal thieves. Just as Max is about to rescue a caged panda, a mustached man blocks his advance, allowing the furry animal to be taken by the panda-nappers. Turns out the man is also trying to rescue the poor panda… he’s actually an FBI agent named Frank (Will Arnett).

The cops receive a tip that the thieves are using a dog show in Las Vegas as a front for their illegal animal smuggling operation. Max and Frank are thrown together “Turner and Hooch” (1989) style and are tasked with tracking down the thieves and rescuing the panda. The twist is that Max will be entered as a contestant in the dog show. Turning aggressive street dog Max into a well-groomed, well-mannered canine is just one of the many challenges this unlikely duo must face as they attempt to take a bite out of crime.

If the plot sounds familiar, it is. “Show Dogs” is, at its core, a talking animal version of the Sandra Bullock vehicle, “Miss Congeniality” (2000). However, whereas “Miss Congeniality” was a crowd-pleasing romp, “Show Dogs” is a witless dud… and that’s putting it mildly.

The screenplay, written by Max Botkin and Marc Hyman (not to be confused with wellness physician, Mark Hyman), is mind-numbingly inane, even by talking animal movie standards. The story is merely a loose assemblage of cheesy one-liners (“I knew I smelled bad attitude.”), hyperreal high jinks (like Max bending his way around a moving car “Matrix” style) and disgusting images (like the spinach, egg shells and whole raw fish smoothie) held together by a contrived plot. From one set of credits to the other, there’s no stoppage of dialog. These characters (mostly animal) just never shut up. Sadly, much of what they say is offensive and doesn’t have any substance whatsoever.

Despite its pedestrian plot, the film has attracted an array of top-tier talent. In addition to human characters like Mattie (perfectly played by Natasha Lyonne from “Orange is the New Black”), the movie’s various talking animals are voiced by notables from a number of different entertainment segments, including: actors Alan Cumming and Stanley Tucci), athletes (Shaquille O’Neal), singers (Jordin Sparks as an Australian Shepherd ), comedians (Gabriel Iglesias) and reality TV show hosts (RuPaul).

The movie’s director, Raja Gosnell, is no stranger to the genre, having helmed “Scooby-Doo,” “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed,” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”

Okay, so let’s get to the question at the forefront of everyone’s mind… is this movie appropriate for kids? In a word, not even remotely.

Somewhere along the way, writers started working adult jokes into kid’s movies in order to hold the attention of mature viewers. Their justification for these guised gags is that they would sail right over the heads of younger audience members. This is a gross underestimation of the impressionable and increasingly savvy children in our society. The truth is, young people are assimilating these crude references whether they completely understand them or not.

So here we have a litany of adult jokes shrouded in seemingly innocuous moments of levity. Though subtly delivered in most cases, the movie is filled with double entendres. In one scene, where Max is bragging about his status as alpha male, he says, “If you were to compare me to other dogs, I wouldn’t come up lacking.” A supposed animal expert tells Frank, “What an exquisitely striking specimen you possess.” The line is supposed to refer to Max, but the way it’s delivered makes you think the flattering statement is directed at Frank. One member of the Pigeon PD is in love with Max. First she emphasizes the fact that Max works alone, indicating her desire to be his partner. Then, after Max tosses a bad guy over a fence, she says, “He can flip this bird any day.”

There’s an awkward scene where the sidekick Papillion (Stanley Tucci) invites Max (Ludacris)to sleep on the same bed with him and Frank, stating that it’s “what nature intended.” The dog follows that up by saying that “there is plenty of room for trois,” which hints at a ménage a trois, and makes an uncomfortable scene even more disturbing.

A whole section of the film deals with preparing Max for when the judge will inspect his private areas. As would be expected, this part of the competition creates many unnecessary comments, especially during the bikini wax sequence. When Max is inspected, the Rottweiler retreats to a happy place in his mind where he dances with Frank on a ballroom floor. This scene is inappropriate and crosses the line of proper relations between humans and dogs. The final scene of the film, which shows three dogs bathing together au naturel in a Jacuzzi, also gives one a queasy feeling.

And who decided to set this supposedly “family” film in Vegas? Is there a more family unfriendly location the writers could’ve chosen? One character observes that Vegas is marked by luxury and excess, which would seem to indicate how unsuitable it is for the location of a kid’s movie. Even though dancers and other performers are appropriately clothed in most cases, the overall atmosphere of the movie is very adult.

As the main character, Max is a terrible role model. Before he realizes Frank is an FBI agent, Max bites Frank in the butt. Soon after, Frank remarks to the police chief that Max has anger issues. Max displays a bad attitude when Frank orders him to heel. Max tells Frank, “Heel yourself,” and strikes off on his own. One fellow contestant sums up the Rottweiler perfectly by stating that Max is cynical, overbearing, can’t work in a team and doesn’t trust anyone.

Max is also an instigator of pranks and other rude gestures. When Max is being pampered in a bath, the dog’s flatulence makes bubbles in the water. In one sequence, Max commits a disorderly act by jumping into the fountain at a resort. Other dogs soon join him, much to the chagrin of their owners. Some onlooking dogs chant, “Party, party, party!” Besides, encouraging bad behavior, this scene only adds to the party atmosphere that pervades many of the movie’s Vegas scenes.

As a trained police dog, Max is supremely confident when faced with adversity. During the physical fitness portion of the dog show, Max wins all of the challenges by intimidating the competition or by bending the rules. Though Max’ “unorthodox showboating” puts him at the top of the leader board, it’s regrettable that this win-at-all-costs character trait was modeled for younger audience members.

Max’ character is somewhat redeemed at the end when he realizes the necessity of enlisting the help of others. Max confesses to having disrespected everyone and everything on his trip to Vegas. Though these are positive character moments, they certainly don’t make up for the myriad transgressions Max committed earlier in the film.

Some action scenes may be disturbing for younger children. A police shootout contains some mild violence. Though it takes place off-screen, a dog is beaten and left for dead. Max attacks the villain and ends up in jail. Mattie punches a thug in the face twice. There’s some momentary peril when the caged panda drifts toward a plane’s spinning propeller.

Someone is shown making a snorting gesture, which we may assume is drugs. There’s a brief mention of champagne and adults hold drinks at various receptions.

As for expletives, there are a couple “h*lls” and da*ns. There are many instances of unsavory words like: “stupid,” “B.S.,” “turd,” “bull,” “dang,” “freakin,” and “heck.” At one point in the action, Max says, “Ah, grow some balls.” Fortunately the phrase “Son of a…” isn’t finished.

The movie is packed with rude or suggestive humor. At one point, Max says, “You run like a wiener dog.” Frank later counters with, “I’m going to neuter that mongrel.” One male dog hitting on a female dog says, “Is it hot in here or is it you?” When a male and female dog start eating the opposite ends of a hot dog, one eavesdropper says, “He’s Lady and the Tramping her.” When Frank pushes Max through a window, the dog says, “Just lifting, not squeezing.” And there’s plenty of potty humor too: “Future generations of pigeons will poop on statues of us.”

The movie isn’t blatantly anti-faith, but one scene involves a dog engaging in a mock prayer, “Dear Lord, forgive my student’s ignorance and guide him to victory.” Also, we hear RuPaul (as pooch Persephone) say his coined phrase, “Can I get an ‘amen’ up in here?” which also comes off as sacrilegious.

I could take up more space detailing the many negative aspects of “Show Dogs,” but hopefully these examples will serve as a deterrent for those considering this film for their next family night. Parents are strongly cautioned to steer their kids away from this movie and toward more wholesome entertainment. Don’t let anyone fool you; “Show Dogs” isn’t a family film.

  • Violence: Mild
  • Profane language: Mild—“Oh my G*d” (3), “gosh,” d*mn (2), “heck” (a fusion of the words “h*ll” and f*ck)
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Mild
  • Nudity: Mild
  • Sex: Moderate— • nothing explicit, but there are sexual innuendos, comments and situations • Song lyrics such as “I got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it,” “I’m sexy and I know it,” and “Girl look at that body” • Kissing (brief) • Inspection of dog genitals
  • Occult: None
Editor’s Note: May 23, 2018 Update—Due to an uproar about some content in “Show Dogs,” the film is now reportedly undergoing an emergency re-edit and re-release in theaters due to content related to gential examination. Various parents and sexual victim advocates were angered by the content, including at least one sexual abuse victim who wrote a warning about the film. The theater chain Cineplex Australia dropped the movie from its offerings. The conservative group National Center On Sexual Exploitation said,

“The movie Show Dogs sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse. It contains MULTIPLE SCENES where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier. Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children—telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.” The organization’s director called on “Global Road Entertainment, the distribution company, to halt the distribution of Show Dogs in movie theaters and to recut the movie so that it no longer contains such unsafe themes.”

The Distributor provided this announcement…

“Responding to concerns raised by moviegoers and some specific organizations, Global Road Entertainment has decided to remove TWO SCENES from the film ‘Show Dogs’ that some have deemed not appropriate for children. …The company takes these matters very seriously and remains committed to providing quality entertainment for the intended audiences based on the film’s rating. We apologize to anybody who feels the original version of ‘Show Dogs’ sent an inappropriate message. The revised version of the film will be available for viewing nationwide starting this weekend.”


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I just read this article from a site “Protect Your Family” posted Saturday, May 19, 2018…

“We took the family to see the new movie, Show Dogs, last week at an advance screening. The premise is great for a kids movie. Max is a talking police dog (voiced by Ludacris) who is paired up with a human partner, Frank (Will Arnett) to infiltrate a prestigious dog show and rescue a kidnapped baby panda. Being a tough dog from New York, Max has no business competing in a dog show, but uses his street smarts to outperform the competition to get closer to the inner circle of kidnappers. Along the way, Max learns lessons about trust and the need to accept help from others. The usual hilarity ensues with dog farts, bites on the rear-end, and slap-stick bonks to the head which elicit giggles from the audience. There are also the obligatory jokes that go over the kids head to entertain the parents with plenty of meta jokes that reference the actors work outside of this movie. The keen ear will pick up on the multiple cameos voice performances from the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Gabriel Iglesias, and RuPaul.

What could have been solely a fun movie for kids that would get my highest recommendation is damaged by a dark and disturbing message hidden, not so subtly between the fluffy dogs and glamorous parties of the show dog lifestyle. As part of any dog show, contestants are judged on their abilities and physical attributes. One part, in particular, is the inspection of the dog’s private parts. Being that Max is new to competing, he needs to learn the process so his partner, Frank, along with a former show champion work to get him ready for the final round of the competition. Since the inspection of the private parts will happen in the finals, Frank touches Max’s private parts to get him use to it. Of course, Max doesn’t like it and snaps at Frank for him to stop. Max is then told by the former champion, who has been through the process before, that he needs to go to his “zen place” while it happens so he can get through it. More attempts are made by Frank to touch Max’s private parts, but Max is still having trouble letting it happen and keeps snapping at him.

The day of the finals come and if Max doesn’t let his private parts be touched, he may lose the competition and any hope of finding the kidnapped panda. It all rests on his ability to let someone touch his private parts. The judge’s hands slowly reach behind Max, and he goes to his “zen place”. He’s flying through the sky, dancing with his partner, there are fireworks and flowers-everything is great-all while someone is touching his private parts.

During the movie, I kept thinking, “This is wrong, it doesn’t need to be in a kids movie. Everything else in the movie is good fun except for this.” Afterward, my husband mentioned that he picked up on this message too, as did my mother who saw the movie with us. My daughter, on the other hand, said her favorite part of the movie was when Max got his privates touched and the funny reaction he had. I decided to use that moment to help reinforce what we have taught our children since they were little, private parts are just that, private. We talked about how I didn’t feel that part needed to be in the movie. We talked about how we never let anyone touch our private parts, what they should do if anyone tries. We reinforced that if anyone tries to touch their private parts or asks them to touch their private parts they should talk to us about that. We talked about different ways children can feel pressured to participate in those types of behaviors. A child predator is usually known to the child, rarely are they a stranger. We talked about bribes or threats, we discussed the fact that that type of behavior is not a game, we reminded them the same rules apply to kids as well as adults. Approximately one-third of offenders are themselves juveniles, with 23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18 and only 14% of children who suffered sexual abuse were violated by an unknown perpetrator. (Victimsofcrime.org) Although you cannot prepare a child for every situation the more knowledge you give them the stronger their defenses are!

As a survivor of child abuse, this is something I feel strongly about and am passionate about helping others protect their children. I also fiercely strive to give my children the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves. Those little humans are the greatest things in the world! Children are our greatest resource if they have already been a victim of abuse this movie has the potential to be very triggering for them.

With the #MeToo movement and all the talk of sexual predators in Hollywood, I couldn’t help but think this message, that is blatantly in the open for adults to see, but over a child’s understanding, is meant to groom children to be open to having people touch their privates, even though they don’t want it. It gives them the idea of a “zen place” to go to mentally when they are touched. I’m a make lemonade out of lemons type of girl, so let’s take this movie and use it as a great teaching tool. I’m not going to encourage or discourage anyone from seeing this movie, I only want to help parents make an informed decision. If you do take your kids I will encourage if you to have an educational and powerful conversation with your kids. They will have fun watching Max infiltrate the show dog culture and you will have a teaching opportunity that won’t feel awkward or uncomfortable because you are just talking about a movie. Let’s take this as an opportunity to build abuse resistant children because they will be smarter than predators, and Hollywood’s tricks!”

—Trish Francen, age 67 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…Grown-ups will find it painful to watch a clearly embarrassed Arnett go through the motions, muttering his lines as he internally wonders why he never became the next Kevin Costner. …
Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
…“Show Dogs” is really bad, even for a talking-dog movie. …
Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
…Even by the low standards of this type of live-action, family friendly comedy, “Show Dogs” is especially lame. It’s actually kind of amazing that it’s getting a theatrical release at all. …
Christy Lemire, Roger Ebert.com
…Yes, it recalls “Turner and Hooch,” a movie Show Dogs references so many times you start to feel nostalgic for it. And when you find yourself longing for “Turner and Hooch,” things are very bleak indeed. …
Barbara VanDenburgh, Arizona Republic
…Families with canines are better off staying home and having an old-fashioned backyard frolic than trotting out to see Show Dogs, a panting, poorly trained entry in the live-action/talking animal genre that for once makes viewers long for the candy-colored, half-witted professionalism of third-tier Pixar-knockoff animation. …
Robert Abele, The Wrap
…“Show Dogs” won’t show up on any resumes… There’s barely a single laugh in this thing, none from the humans, virtually none from the voices of the assorted dogs, pigeons, lion and panda who play police dogs, show dogs and the rowdy Vegas birds who want to help crack the case. …
Roger Moore, Movie Nation
…replete with the sort of slapstick humor, puerile gags and for-adults-only pop-culture references required of such endeavors. Its frantic pace should make it a mildly amusing diversion for the younger set, but its juvenile imagination (or lack thereof) is likely to drive anyone over the age of 7 barking mad. …
Nick Schager, Variety