DC League of Super-Pets

Krypto (voice of Dwayne Johnson) has always been Superman’s (voice of John Krasinski) best friend, having stowed away on the infant’s space pod years ago, but Lois Lane’s (voice of Olivia Wilde) increasing presence in his master’s life has made the crime fighting canine jealous.  He doesn’t take it well when shelter pittie Ace (voice of Kevin Hart) informs him that Superman was trying to pawn him off on a canine friend, but Ace and the pig PB (voice of Vanessa Bayer), turtle Merton (voice of Natasha Lyonne) and squirrel Chip (voice of Diego Luna) will prove invaluable when one of their own, literal Lex Luther (voice of Marc Maron) guinea pig Lulu (voice of Kate McKinnon) exposes them to orange Kryptonite on her way to kidnapping the Justice League.  They will become the “DC League of Super-Pets.”

Laura's Review: C+

Cowriter (with his "The Lego Batman Movie" writer John Whittington) Jared Stern makes his feature directorial debut with a cute super hero origin story squarely aimed at the kiddies that boasts an embarrassment of riches in its vocal casting but bargain basement CGI animation.  While the voice actors cloak themselves in their characterizations, animators provide scant characteristics, at one point Ace appearing with the whiskers missing from one side of his muzzle.  Still, one can’t be too down on “DC League of Super-Pets” with its themes of self sacrifice, friendship and pet adoption.

The film follows the basic super hero origin tale, its protagonist finding his true power when his super equivalents are stripped.  The film quickly jumps forward from Kal-El’s tragic beginnings via a match cut from the baby’s yawn to the adult’s snoring as Krypto tries to rouse his master for walkies.  The crime-fighting duo, which share powers of flight, x-ray vision, super strength and more, are so beloved, a statue has been erected to them.  But super heroes cannot exist without super villains and while the dynamic duo manage to capture Lex Luther, the little guinea pig made hairless (and mad) in his laboratory experiment is hoping to gain his undying admiration with its own world domination plot.  After inadvertently giving its shelter mates super powers, Lulu creates its own evil army of empowered guinea pigs, taking on Batman (voice of Keanu Reeves), Green Lantern (voice of Dascha Polanco), Aquaman (voice of Jemaine Clement), Cyborg (voice of Daveed Diggs), The Flash (voice of John Early) and Wonder Woman (voice of Jameela Jamil).

There are a number of amusing running gags, like Krypto’s Batman squeaky toy, the ghost of Dog-EL (voice of Keith David) and the little kitten, Whiskers, Lulu takes on as its henchman.  And while Krypto sniffs out Ace’s promise of life on a farm as a motivational lie, the way Stern and Whittington teach the old dog new tricks using the pit bull’s methods is quite heart warming.  Unfortunately, after offering an explanation for how Krypto’s powers might be restored, they simply do at a convenient time – right before the inevitable overblown climax that routinely bog down the genre.

Thankfully, the film wraps on a bright adoption note, with even Lulu guinea pigs Keith and Mark (voices of Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz) finding a happy ending.  Stick around for a couple of stingers, one a surprise featuring an unexpected note from The Rock.

Robin's Review: C+

The boy and his dog story has probably been with us since the days of the cavemen and we are all familiar with the Superman origins legend. So, it is not a stretch to change things a little to create a superhero and his super dog yarn with “DC League of Super-Pets.”

Things start off on a small scale as Kal-El, with a Labrador retriever pup as a stowaway, is sent to Earth by his parents to save him from the destruction of the planet Krypton. Jump ahead 20 or 30 year and Superman (John Krasinski) is Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet, and his super dog, Krypto (Dwayne Johnson), is named Bark. But, evil is afoot in the guise of Lex Luthor (Marc Maron) and he has plans to take over the world.

On the surface, that would seem enough to sustain a feature animation film with lots of save-the-world action. Here, though, director and co-writer Jared Stern, with John Whittington, go the kitchen sink route and include all the members of the Justice League – Batman (Keanu Reeves), Wonder Woman (Jameela Jamil), Aquaman (Jemaine Clement), The Flash (john Early) and Green Lantern (Dasch Polanco) and also create new super characters.

These are not enough characters, apparently, as the plot thickens and a Lex Luthor lab experiment, a guinea pig named Lulu (Kate McKinnon), has her own evil plan to get super power from orange kryptonite and take over the world. Things go a wee bit wrong and the other animals in the shelter – Ace the dog (Kevin Hart), a pot-bellied pig named PB (Vanessa Bayer), a pokey turtle name Merton (Natasha Lyonne) and a nervous squirrel, Chip (Diego Luna) – each get their own super power.
So, we have a lot of characters and a lot of separate story lines and origin tales. My complaint is there are too many story lines and origin tales and just too many darn characters. Since this is firmly aimed at the youngsters out there, there may be too many things going on for its audience. More characters, and the resultant higger bombast, are not necessarily a recipe for success. More is not always better and there is enough material for two movies and that is what the filmmakers should have done.

One major shout out for “DC Leagues of Super Pets” is their association and promotion for animal shelters and, more importantly, animal adoption. The filmmakers’ hearts are in the right place.

Warner Brothers releases "DC League of Super-Pets" in theaters on 7/29/22.