REVIEW / COMEDY
SHOW DOGS (PG)
93 minutes/now showing/1 star
The story: Max (voiced by rapper Ludacris) is a highly decorated Rottweiler police dog who, with reluctant human cop Frank (Will Arnett), is sent to Las Vegas to infiltrate a top dog show. They believe that the show is where an endangered-species smuggling ring operates.
This is one of those movies on the border between live action and animation - almost every animal is real but they appear to talk because of computer-graphics trickery. You might have seen the same technique in director Raja Gosnell's other comedy, Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008).
So we have voice talents, some of them putting on campy accents or lisps (this is, after all, a show with very primped pooches) speaking for the film's main characters, the dogs.
There are accents and pratfalls and the required animals-go-nuts-at-a-human-party scene of chaos, and that is about it as far as humour goes.
This film might be aimed at the under-six crowd, but that is no excuse for scenes that will bore older viewers into a coma.
But there is an interesting question here. Why was this made as a live-action film? It would have made more sense to turn this into a work of animation, as the cartoon-like tone of the material seems to suggest.
Maybe younger viewers prefer to see live dogs? Maybe this live-action talking-animals format is cheaper to produce than a completely animated work? Or perhaps a film featuring Arnett in the flesh, rather than just his voice, is more marketable? Who knows, but the result - real animals with moving lips - is interesting at first, but visually dull after the first 10 minutes.
The jokes, thankfully, only lightly touch on the contrast between the cop duo's red-blooded masculinity and the effeminacy of the competition - there is a bit in which Max's hairy undercarriage undergoes a painful waxing. The rest of the time is spent on species-based gags, such as biting, passing wind and the silliness of dogs wearing curlers and skin-toning cucumber slices on the eyes.