Review by Sean Boelman
A surprisingly star-studded animated flick from across the pond, StarDog and TurboCat is exactly what it sounds like: a mediocre superhero rip-off. Destined to bore adults, the film does have just enough goofy humor and sanitized action that it may please the youngest of kid viewers, but may even leave their older siblings looking for something more fun to watch.
The movie follows an astronaut dog who, decades after being shot into space returns to Earth to find a changed world and must partner with a feline superhero to restore the order between humans and animals. It’s a ridiculous story, but even with something as silly as this for the story, the film will have trouble holding the interest of viewers.
As is the case with nearly every movie aimed at children, there’s a clear moral here about the value of teamwork. The idea of cats and dogs working together is simple and easily processable even for the youngest of minds. That said, the film’s half-baked racial commentary is problematic. (The once subservient animals are “liberated” and then must prove themselves worthy of being loved by their former masters again. That’s not exactly a message that needs to be sent right now.)
The movie also has the breakneck pacing characteristic of most low-rent animated family adventures, albeit to an even more frustrating extent here. There are almost two separate movies within this hour and a half: one about the protagonists teaming up to fight an evil human, and another a superhero action flick.
Not particularly surprising is the fact that the two heroes are not the most compelling characters here. Instead, it is the lovable side characters who will leave a lasting memory for viewers, whether a so-called “Tactical Operations Goldfish” that has the funniest moments in the film, or an Alfred-like butler robot voiced for some reason by Bill Nighy.
For some reason, the filmmakers set the movie in America and as a result, Nick Frost has to do an inconsistent American accent. Why they didn’t just write him off as a dog adopted from a British owner and let him speak in his normal accent will stump any adult viewer. That said, the best thing to come out of this film is proof that a buddy comedy starring Frost and Luke Evans should be made immediately.
In regards to its animation, the movie is surprisingly pretty solid. The world-building is particularly impressive in a way that will be particularly enchanting for elementary-age kids who watch the film. Plus, a few of the tongue-in-cheek comic book references that are made may give their adult companions a brief chuckle.
StarDog and TurboCat is disappointingly bland, especially given the level of talent in its voice cast. Still, as entertainment for kids in a Summer that is more restrictive than usual, it could be diverting enough to occupy the youngsters for an hour and a half.
StarDog and TurboCat hits VOD on June 19.