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Review

Show Dogs

By DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette

This article was published May 18, 2018 at 1:44 a.m.

stanley-tucci-gives-voice-to-philippe-a-former-grand-champion-papillon-who-goes-mad-and-finds-himself-in-the-pound-after-his-competitive-days-are-over-in-raja-gosnells-third-fi-lm-to-feature-talking-animals-show-dogs

Stanley Tucci gives voice to Philippe — a former grand champion Papillon who goes mad and finds himself in the pound after his competitive days are over — in Raja Gosnell’s third fi lm to feature talking animals, Show Dogs.

Show Dogs

75 Cast: Will Arnett, Ludacris, Alan Cumming, Stanley Tucci, Natasha Lyonne, RuPaul, Shaquille O’Neal, Gabriel Iglesias, Delia Sheppard

Director: Raja Gosnell

Rating: PG, for suggestive and rude humor, language and some action.

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Sprinkles (voice of comic Gabriel Iglesias), Philippe (Stanley Tucci) and Max (Ludacris) help an FBI agent foil a kidnapping plot in Show Dogs.

Maybe the Motion Picture Association of America should add an additional audience rating for movies. Show Dogs would make an ideal test case for this new "NG" or "No Grownups" designation.

Director Raja Gosnell, who is responsible for the live action Scooby Doo movies and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, is an old hand at the curiously specific craft of blending flesh and blood actors with CGI dogs or real dogs who need a little digital help enunciating.

With his newest effort, FBI agent Frank (Will Arnett) interacts seamlessly with Max, a police Rottweiler sporting Ludacris' voice. Gosnell, a crew of digital magicians, expert dog wranglers and some talented pooches make the buddy cop interactions seem so natural, it's tempting to wonder if it's possible to get a speeding ticket from an angry Pitbull.

For good measure, there's a lovable CGI panda the two are struggling to rescue from smugglers. Screenwriters Max Botkin and Marc Hyman seemed to have transposed Miss Congeniality to the world of dog shows. Frank and Max head to Las Vegas to find the perps and the panda. To get inside the operation, the streetwise Max poses as a show dog, while Frank acts as his handler. Much of the attempted comedy comes from the fact that neither has any aptitude for the task.

Having all the lovable dogs in one place is charming, but Botkin and Hyman's dialogue isn't fit for either human or canine lips. When Max taunts Frank by telling him, "You run like a wiener dog," you know it's going to be an inordinately long 90 minutes.

Furthermore, Show Dogs can't even follow its own internal logic. Dogs and humans converse in some scenes, and in other the critters lament that humans don't speak their language. When animal control puts Max in the pound, Frank declares that Max has never attacked humans.

That's surprising considering Max bites Frank in the first 10 minutes.

Logic gaps like this are easy to ignore if the movie is any good. With nothing in its supper dish but eye candy, Show Dogs alienates any viewer who wants something more than talking hounds. Celebrities like RuPaul, Shaquille O'Neal and Jordin Sparks talk for the dogs, but don't have voices distinctive enough to make their participation all that worthwhile. (Stanley Tucci fares better as a bitter former show dog with a Belgian accent who coaches Max on how to impress judges.)

While Show Dogs loses viewers over the age of 6 quickly, some of its attempted humor seems a little wrong for them. There are the requisite jokes about canine bodily functions, and there's also a few gags involving Max's private parts that seem inappropriate for the puppies in the crowd.

When my nephews were little, they seemed to like anything their uncle showed them. That said, they only loved the good stuff. They nagged me to show them The Incredibles several times a day. That wouldn't have happened to Show Dogs.

MovieStyle on 05/18/2018

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