DC League of Super-Pets
2022, PG, 106 min. Directed by Jared Stern, Sam Levine. Voices by Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, Natasha Lyonne, Vanessa Bayer, Diego Luna, Keanu Reeves, John Krasinski, Marc Maron.
REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., July 29, 2022
Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson clearly have fun making movies together. Three films into their partnership (Hart's cameo in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw barely counts) it's clear that they're more fun together in family-friendly fare like the Jumanji sequels than the clunky Central Intelligence. For DC League of Super-Pets, their fourth proper feature together, they may have at least shared the same recording booth as they bring their double act to DC League of Super-Pets, one of the strangest but most enjoyable corners of the DC animated universe.
Krypto the Superdog is proof that 1955 was a weird time for comics: DC Comics decided to cash in on the success of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, ABC's reboot of the old Poverty Row movie series about a heroic German shepherd. The idea of corn-fed farm boy Clark Kent having an equally superpowered golden retriever was such a hit that Batman got his own canine sidekick, Ace the Bat-Hound, and in the early Sixties the hero animal craze resulted in the Legion of Super-Pets. For decades, DC has vacillated between erasing and embracing their inherent goofiness, and League of Super-Pets finally gives them their own headliner movie with Johnson as Superman's best friend and Hart as up-for-adoption boxer Ace (can you say ... origin story?).
The duo has already proven their ability to banter, with entertaining results, and the quick-witted script takes them to the most kid-friendly version of their act yet. Writer/director Stern and his The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie co-writer John Whittington plays to all their strengths as Superman (Mister Fantastic aka Krasinski, like Johnson with the upcoming Black Adam, pulling double superhero fan casting duty this year) and the whole Justice League get kidnapped by a Kryptonite-mutated Lexcorp guinea pig named Lulu (McKinnon). Luckily, even as Krypto loses his powers, Ace and a shelter's worth of critturs (Lyonne as a Flash-esque turtle, Bayer as a size-changing pig, and Luna as a lightning-projecting squirrel) get their own, and learn important lessons about friendship along the way.
League of Super-Pets is a lighthearted, generically animated, fun time out for the kids. There's an oddly large number of jokes from the Distinguished Competition referring to Marvel characters, and the weird decision to have turtle Merton (the name a nod to DC's original talking animal) talk with bleeped-out swears, but overall the boisterous buddy comedy of Hart and Johnson will make you believe a dog truly can fly.