The latest addition to Warner Bros’ ever increasing DC library is the curiously flat DC League Of Super-Pets. Co-written and directed by Jared Stern (The Lego Batman Movie), LOSP seemingly draws equal inspiration from 1962’s oddball Legion Of Super Pets comic book team, 2005’s Krypto, The Superdog animated series and Universal’s Secret Life Of Pets franchise.
On paper this probably sounded like a surefire winner. Unfortunately, on screen the end result is significantly less than the sum of its parts.
Opening with a genuinely affecting reprise of baby Superman’s escape from the doomed planet Krypton (replete with crystal spaceships, art deco angles and John Williams’ famous score), the film soon settles into a whimsical relationship story between Krypto (Dwayne Johnson) and his now adult master, Clark Kent/Superman (John Krasinski) and the unexpected curveball that Superman’s relationship with girlfriend Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde) brings into their life.
So far, so Incredibles, but then the picture unwisely pivots away from this rather sweet, yet unoriginal set up into a tired Odd Couple-style riff between the optimistic Krypto and the decidedly gruff Ace, the Bat-Hound (Kevin Hart).
Parallel to Krypto and Ace’s perfunctory Oscar and Felix routine, we’re also introduced to a whole raft of other super-powered animals. Handily gifted abilities by a fragment of orange Kryptonite, their mission (apart from selling a ton of merchandise for Warner Brothers!) is to free the captured Justice League from the clutches of evil slaphead, Lex Luthor (Marc Maron) and his super-powered hairless guinea pig, Lulu (Kate McKinnon).
Aimed squarely at the under-10s, this animated feature contains very little of the wit and energy seen in the recent Lego Batman Movie, while attempts to mine the more archetypal side of the material clash with the scatalogical humour that the creatives are clearly far more enamoured by. This tonal conflict is never resolved and is embodied in the bizarre form of Merton (Natasha Lyonne), a short-sighted, geriatric tortoise with super speed who seemingly possesses the only potty mouth in Metropolis.
However, despite the by-the-numbers plot and jokes that never quite hit the mark, there are some bright spots. McKinnon’s Lulu is easily the best thing in the film, channelling a genuine sense of madness and absurdity that’s reminiscent of the WB’s ‘Pinky & The Brain’, while Keanu Reeves’ brief turn as a ludicrously moody Batman has more than a hint of Adam West’s droll humour to it. The animation is also suitably impressive, with Superman in particular looking and sounding more heroic and engaging than he’s appeared in years. Here’s hoping the next time the Man Of Steel returns to our screen he leaves the dog in the kennel.
DC League of Super-Pets is out now from Warner Bros. Pictures. Find. more reviews from SciFiNow here.