Review: ‘Show Dogs’ Is a Shaggy Good Time

Posted May 17, 2018 8:23 p.m. EDT

Sometimes a rewarding movie theater experience comes from a simple film that doesn’t promise more than it can deliver. “Show Dogs” promises talking dogs who fight crime. It delivers.

In Raja Gosnell’s canine comedy, Max (voiced by Ludacris) is a laconic Rottweiler with the New York Police Department who sniffs the trail of an international animal smuggling ring. When the clues lead to a swanky dog show in Las Vegas, Max is assigned to the case as the pooch partner for Frank (Will Arnett), a combative FBI agent. Aided by Frank’s agency contacts and Max’s purebred informants, the two search for their human culprit.

“Show Dogs” mixes digital effects with footage of trained dogs to achieve its elaborate flights of fancy. One result of having real dogs on screen is that the dumbest of the doggy dialogue is easy to tune out in favor of the amiably dunderheaded pleasure of watching a pack of pups solve crime. Moments of cleverness zing out from the din, as when RuPaul voices a four-legged fashionista, or a spectacular Komondor (Shaquille O’Neal) offers Max his best Zen mantras.

Enthusiasts for particular breeds may be disappointed to find that “Show Dogs” spotlights Rottweilers and Papillons over bulldogs and bloodhounds, but more frustrating for the impartial dog lover is the extreme imbalance of screen time between male and female dogs. In a movie intended for families, it is frustrating that both humans and hounds who are gendered female find themselves relegated to love interest roles. But if “Show Dogs” sometimes betrays its shaggy charms, there is comfort in remembering that many movies are much dumber than this one, and so few of them have either the good taste or the good manners to compensate with puppies.


Additional Information:

‘Show Dogs’

Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes.