Raja Gosnell hates your children. That must be it. There can be no other reason for Show Dogs’ existence. The man hates your children to his very core and if he could have it his way, he’d lock them all in a cage and imprison them in a dungeon somewhere, mentally torturing them for all eternity, just like the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Instead, he has to make do and be content with serving them up cinematic dross of the kind we have here. At least the Child Catcher offered the poor little sods candy. Christ!
Then again, what did we really expect from someone with a back catalogue that includes both Beverly Hills Chihuahua and The Smurfs? To be honest, we expected something bad, but Show Dogs even makes a dog dinner of that, turning out to be nothing less than the absolute nadir of Gosnell’s entire filmography. Charmless and crass, the film opens with horribly clumsy expository dialogue and takes its cue from there, spewing every line and joke in a manner that treats younger viewers like idiots.
The plot is no better, centering on the mismatched partnership between hapless FBI agent Frank (Will Arnett) and Max, a Rottweiler police dog (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) as they go undercover at a decadent Las Vegas dog competition, all in an attempt to find a stolen Panda cub and bring the criminals to justice. Think a rubbish version of Turner and Hooch with horrible CGI and zero-charm, and you’re halfway to understanding how utterly repugnant the whole affair is.
The other half of said-understanding is apparent in the cavalcade of every horrible, wince-inducing cliché and lowest-of-the-low toilet gag imaginable, all crammed into the fray like someone mixing crushed-up worming tablets into a dinner bowl full of Bakers Complete, Pedigree Chum and shame! The farts fly thick-and-fast throughout, as do the lazy stereotypes, auto-tuned pop songs and dated-references, all clearly pulled from the ‘Idiots Guide to Making a Kids Movie’ book.
All of this doesn’t begin to compare with the worst the film has to offer though – the now-infamous genital-fondling subplot, which whipped up much controversy when the film originally debuted in cinemas. Hero dog Max has to reluctantly let the Dog Show judges touch his genitals in order to win the competition and beat the villains. How does he get over this (very reasonable) objection to having his private parts grabbed, you probably don’t want to ask?
Why, he simply goes to his happy place.
Yeah. We know. Seriously!
The film has been recut, but the offending incident is still glaringly present for all to witness. It’s reckless, it’s forced and it isn’t funny in the slightest. Frankly, it’s pretty much impossible to watch, it’s that uncomfortable. If anything, it just goes to show the amount of care, attention and respect for the target audience that went into making Show Dogs.
Raja Gosnell most definitely hates your kids. But more importantly, Raja Gosnell hates you, the parents. He hates you so much, he wants to inflict this travesty upon you. He knows your little tykes will want to watch it on DVD over and over, subjecting you to every mental pain imaginable with every subsequent viewing. He wants you to hurt. He wants you to cry.
And worst of all, he wants your children to grow up without the slightest sense of taste, their filmic palette dulled by bland, corporate, irresponsible bilge like this movie, a film so bad that the sight of a real dog getting run over by a car offers a slightly more enjoyable watch.
Dir: Raja Gosnell
Prd: Deepak Nayar & Philip von Alvensleben
Scr: Max Botkin & Marc Hyman
Starring: Will Arnett, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordin Sparks, Stanley Tucci, Alan Cumming, RuPaul, Shaquille O’Neal
DOP: David Mackie
Show Dogs is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now.