Please note: this review is of the version of Show Dogs shown in Australian cinemas.
Max (voice of Ludacris) is a tough, macho and streetwise police dog, working for the NYPD. Down at the docks, Max witnesses a baby giant panda, Ling-Li, being smuggled illegally into the country. Max immediately sets off in pursuit of the criminals. But Max doesn’t realise that he has actually just disrupted an FBI sting. Back at the police station, undercover FBI agent Frank (Will Arnett) is furious about his operation being blown by a dog.
When it’s discovered that the baby panda is going to be sold to private buyers at a prestigious dog show, The Canini Invitational in Las Vegas, Frank and Max are pressured into an unlikely partnership. They must go undercover as a show dog contestant and his reluctant handler. As they do their best to blend in and win the prize for best in show, they start to unravel the mystery of the kidnapped panda and try to save her.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Crime; animal smuggling; partnership; dog shows.
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Show Dogs has some violence. For example:
- Police point guns at people to arrest them.
- Characters point and shoot guns in action sequences, although no-one is actually shot.
- Max bites Frank on the bottom.
- Action sequences feature hand-to-hand fighting with kicking and punching.
- Franks says, ‘If you can’t kill it and mount it, buy it and breed it’. He’s referring to rare animals.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Show Dogs has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- The baby panda cries and is distressed when it’s trapped in the cage.
- A tiger escapes from a cage. It stalks one of the men and looks like it’s going to eat him.
- There are a few scenes of dangerous, reckless and fast driving.
- The propellers of a plane come dangerously close to harming the baby panda, although it’s whisked out of the way in the nick of time.
Children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by this movie.
Nothing of concern
Show Dogs has some sexual references. For example:
- Talking about Max, a pigeon says, ‘He can flip this bird any day!’
- Max says suggestively, ‘If you were comparing me to other dogs, I’d measure up, if you know what I mean’.
- There is a romantic attraction and some flirtation between Max and a sheep dog named Daisy. They plan a date together.
- When Daisy walks by, a dog says, ‘Hmm-mmm, that is some divine canine!’
- A dog and its handler ask Max to be a stud dog for them. Max isn’t impressed because he thinks the other dog is very ugly.
- When Frank meets the FBI official dog handler, he is surprised that she’s an attractive woman. He gets flustered because she isn’t the ‘cat lady’ type that he’d imagined.
- Max must submit to having his genitals waxed as part of his makeover for the show. The woman says that it’s necessary so that the judges can have a clear view. There are some jokes about how painful it will be, and Frank does the job with glee (because he’s annoyed with Max). The actual waxing isn’t shown.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Show Dogs shows some use of substances. For example, there’s a scene where a street dog gives Max some information in exchange for a bag of ‘catnip’. The dog behaves like someone with a drug addiction. Inside the bag there’s actually a squeaky rubber chicken. The dog is disappointed, but Max tells him that the chicken is ‘better for him’.
Nudity and sexual activity
Nothing of concern
None of concern
Show Dogs has some coarse language and humour.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Show Dogs (as shown in Australian cinemas) is a light and fairly bland talking dog movie, with plenty of cheap gags and fast-paced action.
Although it’s aimed at younger children, the mildly suggestive humour, crude language and use of violence make it unsuitable for children under the age of 10. Australian parents should be aware that controversial scenes have been edited and cut out of the version being shown in Australian cinemas. These scenes involve handling of the dog’s genitals.
These are the main messages from Show Dogs:
- A partnership or a friendship can take some time to develop.
- Illegal trading of rare and endangered species is bad.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include bravery, self-reflection and kindness to animals.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- illegal trading of rare and endangered animals
- the ethics of dog shows
- the consequences of crime.