Month: September, 2022

DC League of Super-Pets

Verdict: A cheerful super-doggy flick that hasn’t learnt any new tricks.

Watching Superman take his dog for a walk seems as absurd as The Flash running on a hamster wheel. But that’s what you get from the nutty mind of writer/director Jared Stern (of The Lego Batman Movie fame).

DC League of Super-Pets peeks into the multiverse and imagines a superhero world where the Man of Steel has a pet dog named Krypto. The film begins by explaining how puppy Krypto snuck his way onto baby Superman’s escape pod just before the destruction of Krypton. Fast forward to today and we have the domesticated bliss of man and dog fighting crime in between playing fetch in the park with “squeezy Bruce” the Batman throw-toy.

However, as the pluralisation suggests Super-Pets isn’t just a story about Krypto. Rather, it’s also an origin story for a posse of other pets, all of who have been imbued with superpowers via a misplaced shard of anti-kryptonite (which giveth superpower rather than taketh). Along with Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), there’s Ace the invulnerable dog (Kevin Hart—yes, there’s plenty of Hollywood cross-pollination going on here), a multi-sizing pig (Vanessa Bayer), a lightning-handed squirrel (Diego Luna), and a super-speed tortoise (Natasha Lyonne). Even Keanu Reeves chimes in to voice the caped crusader.

No Superhero flick would exist without its baddie. Enter Lulu the Guinea “never call me a hamster” Pig (deliciously voiced by Kate McKinnon), a lackey of Lex Luther who manages to capture the human superheroes for nefarious reasons—of course. So, off trot the super-pets to be good pets and save the day.

As expected Super-Pets relies heavily on humour to carry its audience along—crucially so, because stripping Stern’s script back reveals a predictable story plump with overused superhero tropes and some fairly mundane animation. But what exists outside the doggy-poo-bag are Stern’s quick witticisms which keep things lively and make the most of its impressive cast.

No, it doesn’t have the teary depth of Inside Out, or the brilliant inventiveness of Spiderverse. Not even close. But sometimes a straightforward and cheerful family flick is enough to fill your bowl with doggy treats and this one will at least have the kid’s tails wagging. Who’s a good film then? Yessh yooou aaaare…

See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.

Ticket to Paradise

Verdict: More like a ticket to the Gold Coast than the Maldives.

Writer/director Ol Parker, known for syrupy treats such as Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, has now mixed a new cocktail of colourful delights: one part Kaitlyn Dever, one part tropical setting, and a generous twist of Julia Roberts liberally drizzled over a very dishy George Clooney. Parker certainly knows his romcom ingredients and with Ticket to Paradise, he’s perfected the recipe for mass consumption … perhaps too much, as this film occasionally tastes like a premixed RTD.

Set almost entirely in Indonesia (Bali to be specific), bickering divorcées David and Georgia (Clooney and Roberts) begrudgingly team up to chase after their daughter, Lily (Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever, unfortunately on autopilot) who has seemingly rushed into an engagement with a local seaweed farmer (Maxime Bouttier). Their attempts to derail the marriage lead to a number of farcical events that ultimately force them to re-evaluate their own lives and, unsurprisingly, their past relationship.

A few side characters chime in, most notably Georgia’s toy-boyfriend, a cloyingly handsome but clueless French pilot (Lucas Bravo) and Lily’s bestie, Wren (another Booksmart alumni, Billie Lourd) provide further comic relief and plot filler. But it’s Clooney and Roberts who do most of this film’s heavy lifting and offer a number of laugh-out-loud moments as they serve and volley salvos of shrewd semantics at each other. And although their squabbling does begin to feel like a vehicle solely for comedy rather than shifting along the narrative and character development it is their acting chops that elevate this film above the uneven tropical water.

Sure, Ticket to Paradise is about as predictable as a happy-hour piña colada from the Tiki Bar, but really, does anyone go into a romcom expecting a reinvention of the recipe?! This movie is a calculable beachside cocktail—a reliably formulaic, frothy, romantic sugar rush that’ll evaporate soon after leaving the theatre. Just don’t go in expecting anything fresh or nutritional and you’ll be fine.

See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.