Cert – PG, Run-time – 1 hour 45 minutes, Directors – Jared Stern, Sam Levine
When Superman (John Krasinski) and the rest of the Justice League are kidnapped by a vengeful guinea pig (Kate McKinnon) his dog, Krypto (Dwayne Johnson), assembles a team of superpowered pets to save them.
There’s an undeniably starry cast leading the latest Warner Brothers animation within the DC sphere. Keanu Reeves even makes a brief set of appearances as Batman, something which some fans have been lightly anticipating since the casting was announced. However, in this case while there may be big names popping up here and there to lend their voices to various iconic superheroes the focus is very much on their pets, namely Superman’s (John Krasinski) loyal hound Krypto (Dwayne Johnson). When his owner, alongside the rest of the Justice League, is kidnapped by a revenge-seeking guinea pig (Kate McKinnon) Krypto takes it upon himself to lead a team of recently escape, and newly superpowered, shelter pets in order to save both the Justice League and perhaps the world.
Amongst the grouping, who even with their powers are initially more intent on reaching the much-discussed ‘farm upstate’, are fellow invulnerable dog Ace (Kevin Hart), size-shifting super-fan pig PB (Vanessa Bayer), scared electric squirrel Chip (Diego Luna) and speedy, sweary – although censored it still feels somewhat odd and out of place to hear amongst the rest of the film – Merton (Natasha Lyonne). It’s up to them to take down McKinnon’s Lulu, especially after Krypto’s powers are taken away, and her band of mutated classroom guinea pigs – who themselves discuss tactics and how fire powers will work with ice in one of the more amusing moments of the film.
There’s potential for a number of good jokes here and there through League Of Super Pets, and they do begin to show their head at times, however it feels as if the film is more focused on leaning into its voice cast than anything else. The emphasis on the starry names who have signed on to voice various characters removes some of the potential humour, and also seems to make way for more display of a lack of originality within the film. From the opening scenes you can pretty much tell exactly where the film is going to go and how things are going to develop and turn out. All within the first ten or so minutes, after which things truly begin to dip as the boxes are ticked and your boredom increases. Even moments that could have comedic potential and seem like good ideas gain little response due to what they’ve been surrounded by; and the general focus of the film.
If the film were to focus solely more on the pets then there may be something slightly more enjoyable, especially with certain jokes being cracked lightly jabbing at comic book movies – Ace tells Krypto at one point “if you want to be alone why don’t you go some place uglier?” when he escapes to ‘the best view in the city’. It’s not quite Teen Titans Go! To The Movies – one of the best and funniest animated, and superhero, films in recent years, gloriously sending up the genre from all angles – but it certainly has potential to be mildly amusing. Yet, with various points jumping back to the trapped Justice League members, an imprisoned Lex Luthor (Marc Maron) and Lulu – McKinnon’s character, stealing the show thanks to her vocal performance, seemingly getting more screen-time than a number of recent MCU villains – the titular League Of Super Pets just about avoids feeling like communal, or rather ensemble, support in their own film.
By the time the token seriousness is brought in as part of a flashback sequence the tone that’s attempted to be struck just feels disingenuous and falls before it even has time to properly start. It simply feels present to add to the conventional arc that the film follows. Ticking another box along the way. Further proving the point that you can tell where things are going to go from around the ten minute mark when we’re still being introduced to the central characters. It pushes the thought that plot, character and even jokes aren’t the overall focus of the film as it simply seems to try and push its big name voice cast more than anything else, as if that forms its most appealing feature. There may be some good ideas here and there and signs of potential, however much of it gains little response due to the rather bland and tiresome surroundings.
DC League Of Super Pets hints at the film it might be early on and proceeds to tick pretty much every box of expectation afterwards. Pushing its starry voice cast over anything else there’s few laughs to be found within this rather tiresome team-up.