DC League of Super-Pets
by Toby Woollaston
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.