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Show Dogs about as clean as movies get

Max is a dedicated NYPD police dog. But if that makes you think of TV dogs sniffing boxes at the airport, you’re barking up the wrong tree. The movie Show Dogs, which released May 18 is a new take on dogs for the big screen

Max, you see, is a canine detective who solves the crimes. And he’s happy to do it all on his own. He’ll leap into any confrontation, subdue the baddies, then drag them off to jail with their collars in his teeth.

That is, he would … if his human police partners would just get out of his way once in a while. The problem is, his clumsy handlers tend to treat him like a second-class citizen.

In fact, he was about to crack a Panda-smuggling ring wide open recently when some bumbling FBI guy named Frank blundered into him down at the docks. It was like a dog-and-pony show: Every time Max was ready to bite into the perpetrators, that Frank dude would come running in and mess things up.

It’s enough to make a good dog growl.

So Max is fit to be tied—or at least put on a leash—when he finds out the next day that the chief wants him to work with Frank in an undercover sting operation. The authorities have received a hot tip that smugglers are plotting to sell some contraband animals at a Las Vegas dog show. And Max and Frank have been tagged to pose as contestants in the dog show.

Rated PG Staring: Will Arnett as Frank; Natasha Lyonne as Mattie; V oices of Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Max; Gabriel Iglesias as Sprinkles; Stanley Tucci as Philippe; Shaquille O’Neal as Karma
Well, this is a barkingly bad idea if you ask Max. I mean, he’s no wimpy sit-on-a-cushion-and-eat-grapes show dog! Max is from the streets. He chows down whatever gets thrown in his bowl. And if someone thinks Max is going to submit to one of those show-dog bikini-wax treatments, well that someone should prepare to lose a finger. Or three.

But … this plan is probably the best way to get back on the scent of those ruthless crooks. So Max agrees to partner up.

Oh, the indignities a seasoned police dog must put up with just to take a bite out of crime.

Show Dogs is a kids’ movie through and through. If you consider its story and presentation on a graduated scale—say, one that ranges from whine and scratch on the low end all the way up to a family pleasing tail-wag peak—this pic probably qualifies as a Saturday-matinee chew toy that lands on the less-enthusiastic, flea-bitten side of the scale. It feels like a talking-dog version of Miss Congeniality: a canine caper the youngsters will giggle at even as parents roll their eyes wearily.

On the plus side, it actually has plenty of action and less doggy doo-doo humor than I expected. And in the negative column, there are some extended dog-private-parts-inspection moments and a couple uses of the word “d–n” that really should have been left on the cutting room floor.

Your kids will likely think it’s silly and fun. But whatever you do, I’d suggest you leave your family dog at home. ‘Cause he’d never forgive you.

–Reviewed by Bob Hoos