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(2018) (Will Arnett, voice of Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) (PG)

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Comedy: An FBI agent and a canine police officer team up to try to stop an animal smuggling ring.
Max (voice of CHRIS "LUDACRIS" BRIDGES) is a highly regarded canine police officer who prefers to work by himself. While trying to stop a baby panda from being sold in an international animal smuggling ring, he butts heads with Frank (WILL ARNETT), an FBI agent working the same case. Despite their differences, the two are paired together to work on the case where Max will be entered into a prestigious dog show in Vegas with Frank as his handler and where Dante (voice of ALAN CUMMING) is the reigning champion.

While Frank interacts with FBI canine consultant Mattie (NATASHA LYONNE) who's entering her dog, Daisy (voice of JORDIN SPARKS), into the competition, Max enlists the aid of former show champion Philippe (voice of STANLEY TUCCI) and tag-along pug Sprinkles (voice of GABRIEL IGLESIAS) to help him get the lay of the land and how to act in the show, all while scoping out potential suspects, such as Mattie's associate, Gabriel (OMAR CHAPARRO).

With the show getting underway and Max and Frank continuing to butt heads, they try to work together to crack the case, stop the smugglers, and save the baby panda.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
People love their pets, and while there's a literal menagerie of such critters in households around the world, dogs and cats still rank as the top two most popular. And while some people own both concurrently, and the following is an obvious generalization, there's a big difference between such owners.

Those who have cats as pets love them to death, and talk to them like babies, but far more often than not they leave them at home. Dog owners, on the other hand, and while still doing the lovey-dovey and baby talk thing, can't get enough of bringing the pooch along wherever they go.

And while most cats maintain a poker face for much of their waking hours, you can read the emotion on a dog's face as clear as day and often feel like you can tell what they're thinking. Thus, it's not surprising when they end up in movies, not as pets per se, but as full-fledged characters, sometimes with the ability to speak like humans.

They did so earlier this year in Wes Anderson's superlative "Isle of Dogs" that displayed all of the filmmaker's trademark quirkiness and creative storytelling. Yes, some of the material was geared more for adults than kids, but at least it didn't have the groping of a dog's scrotum as a running gag or the use of LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" song and its lyrics of "I got passion in my pants and I ain't afraid to show it."

Both of those appear in the supposedly kid and family friendly, live-action, cross-species cop buddy movie "Show Dogs" where Will Arnett and a Rottweiler with a digitized mouth (and voice by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) go all "Turner and Hooch" in playing crime fighters.

In this story that's penned by Max Botkin and Marc Hyman and directed by Raja Gosnell (who has the "enviable" track record of helming the likes of the first two "Smurfs" and "Scooby Doo" movies, "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," and "Big Momma's House") our mismatched law enforcement pair are separately trying to crack an animal smuggling ring where a baby panda is the latest product.

After butting heads and Max biting Frank on the seat of his pants, the two go deep undercover to infiltrate a prestigious dog show (that for some reason only draws a crowd of a few dozen people) where the rough and tumble pooch will be entered into the refined contest (and have his genitals literally manhandled) and the FBI agent will pose as his human handler.

Hijinks are supposed to ensue, but in terms of lampooning such canine contests this one comes up short as compared to "Best in Show" and it's not clever enough to be a fun cross-species satire of the mismatched buddy cop flicks (like "Lethal Weapon"). It's certainly not funny or creative enough playing off the talking dog angle to stay in one's noggin any longer than it takes to find your dog who's likely wondering why you wasted 92 or so minutes watching such dreck when he was trying to tell you all along to skip it.

Sure, younger kids who enjoy such talking critter films might be entertained, but have fun explaining the advice from one dog to another to escape to his mental happy place while he's being groped by a stranger. Howlingly bad and ill-suited for kids (or anyone wanting to preserve brain cells), "Show Dogs" rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed May 12, 2018 / Posted May 18, 2018

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