A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids will learn about different dog breeds and about how dogs and handlers compete in dog shows.
Encourages teamwork, friendship, and not judging others based on stereotypes or first impressions. Scenes in which a dog's private parts are handled to prepare him for dog show judging (while he's told to "focus on not reacting" and to go to his "happy place") can be seen as sending problematic messages about consent and potential grooming for abuse; those scenes were removed for the film's home-viewing release.
Positive Role Models
Max learns to overcome his prejudice against the show dogs and appreciate how difficult it is to compete in the shows. Frank and Max are able to bond and work together despite their differences. Capable female characters.
Violence & Scariness
Car pursuits; a baby panda is kidnapped; it's said a dog has "anger issues"; an armed bodyguard, a police dog, and an FBI agent chase one another. Dogs bite/are aggressive with people. An innocent dog is captured; a villain and police officer face off with guns and have a fistfight. A tiger attacks a pilot (offscreen). A dog undergoes a full-body exam -- including his genitals -- without being able to give consent and is told to go to his happy place to get through it (these scenes will be removed for the film's home-viewing version). He's also subjected to an unwilling "bikini wax."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirting between dogs and also between humans. Vague references to a male dog's "equipment" and a dog's alpha status. (See "Violence" for content related to the movie's controversial touching scenes.)
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Infrequent iffy language includes "grow some balls," "flip this bird," "stupid," "hell," "damn," and "bull," "imbecile," "oh my God," "B.S.," etc., as well as scatological humor like fart jokes. "Weiner dog" is used as an insult. A character says "son of a ..." but doesn't finish the sentence.
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Products & Purchases
Mindfreak: Criss Angel billboard, Caesar's Palace hotel/casino, iPhone, iPad, Winnebago, promotional partnerships with Big Boy Restaurants International, Healthy Spot, Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, Pooch Selfie and Spectrum Brands' Dingo and FURminator (all of which are visible in the movie), Ford, Chevy Tahoe, Dodge.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults hold drinks at receptions. A dog makes a joke about clearing out a hotel mini bar. One of Max's informants wants a bag of catnip for his troubles.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Show Dogs is a talking-animal comedy starring Will Arnett as an FBI agent who teams up with Max, a New York City police dog (voiced by Christopher "Ludacris" Bridges), to find smugglers who stole a baby panda. The partners must enter a prestigious dog show in Las Vegas to track down the culprits. There's some vaguely suggestive humor about Max's alpha-male status, scatological (i.e. fart) jokes, and iffy/crude language like "grow some balls." One controversial plot point centers on Max's genitals being examined as preparation for the final part of the dog show (where it will be part of the required examination); he clearly doesn't like the experience and is coached on how to get through it ("go to your happy place"), which some viewers see as being uncomfortably close to the experience of sexual abuse. Due to the outcry over these scenes, the studio released a slightly edited version, but there are still images of Max being touched by his human partner and, briefly, a show judge; the "happy place" line also remains. (According to the distributor, these scenes were edited further for the movie's home-viewing release.) Action/tense moments include car chases and other pursuits, an innocent dog being captured, and a villain and a police officer facing off with guns and having a fistfight. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It's quite possible that young kids may find this human-animal buddy comedy entertaining, but parents will have a hard time seeing past the fact that it's unnecessary and unfunny. There are too many pop culture jokes about Turner & Hooch, The Lego Movie, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and so on that will go over kids' heads and won't earn genuine laughs from adults. A few of the sight gags and jokes land, but most are just as likely to result in a cringe or an eye roll. Both the human and canine romances are bland, with no real viewer investment in either (although individually the female characters are more capable and likable than the males). And, of course, there's the biggest issue of all: the scenes in which Max is prepped for the dog show judges by having his genitals handled, which he doesn't like and which he's advised to get through by going to his "happy place." This controversial sequence struck some viewers as being uncomfortably close to the process of grooming kids for sexual abuse and led to the studio making some changes to the film: The groping and "happy place" line remained in the updated theatrical edit, but more were scheduled to be removed for the home-viewing version of the film, per the distributor.
Very few live-action talking-animal movies deserve to stand the test of time (The Adventures of Milo and Otis, Homeward Bound, Stuart Little, the pug in Men in Black are some of the only ones), and this one is no exception. But if parents can't contain their kids' enthusiasm for Show Dogs, chalk it up to the abiding appeal of movies featuring man's best friend.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.