Review by Sean Boelman
One of the more obscure DC properties to be adapted to the big screen yet, DC League of Super-Pets attempts to recapture the family-friendly meta humor of movies like The LEGO Batman Movie to no avail. Kids will love the film, and it’s passable enough for their parents, but its largely forgettable nature will keep it from breaking out beyond the core younger audience.
The movie follows Superman’s pet canine, Krypto the Superdog, as he must set out on a mission to rescue Superman with the help of some superpowered pet friends. It’s clear that the writers really wanted this to be smart, but they struggle with finding the balance of understandable for younger audiences but upscale enough to hold older viewers’ interest.
The film’s story isn’t helped by the fact that The Bad Guys came out earlier this year and had a similar villain. Beyond the fact that adults will already find the story to be generic, many kids will realize that they just saw something similar three months ago and could end up feeling bored as a result.
However, the movie should certainly be praised for its message. Plenty of kids’ movies discuss the meaning and importance of friendship, but this film goes so far as to present kids with strategies and tools to aid with socialization. For kids who have a hard time making friends for whatever reason, this movie could inspire them to get out there and try to form connections.
It is surprising just how much the film rides off goodwill for the IP given how young the primary target audience is. It’s a movie that’s probably best for elementary school-aged kids, and while they probably know who Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are, the chances of them knowing the Terrific Whatzit or the Jessica Cruz iteration of Green Lantern are much more slim.
The film’s massive voice cast also feels like a gigantic waste of money considering that very few kids will know who these actors are. They will recognize Dwayne Johsnon and Kevin Hart from their other family outings, but the rest of the cast is primarily for the benefit of their parents. Adults will undeniably geek out about Keanu Reeves playing Batman and love Natasha Lyonne as Merton the Turtle, but in kids’ eyes, these roles just could have easily been filled by anyone else.
The animation exists in a weird limbo where it’s much better than your average straight-to-DVD animated movie but not quite as good as you’re used to from a theatrical release. In fact, it’s less impressive than some of the higher-quality DC Universe Animated Movies that are sent directly to the home video market.
DC League of Super-Pets is entertaining enough for young kids, but for most audiences, it’s simply going to be rather boring. The most frustrating thing about the movie is that it’s a waste of talent — even the people who are put to good use — because it’s unlikely that the people who see the film will appreciate its best aspects.
DC League of Super-Pets hits theaters on July 29.