In some respects, it's not as bad as it should have been, and in other ways, it's worse
In all fairness, this wasn’t entirely unpleasant as at least parts of it were okay. For starters, despite constant bad attempts at humor throughout, at least the film is never loud or obnoxious and even the soundtrack doesn’t try to be hip or cool, save for this one very painful musical number. But even then, that was clearly intentional.
While the film does follow a very generic path with everything being about as predictable as you can get, at the very least, it wasn’t painful to sit through and there were two jokes that got a chuckle out of me. Even the scenes with Trump were perfectly tolerable as the film makers neither kiss up to him or mock him with jokes we’ve all heard 1000000 times. He’s just portrayed as, well, a guy in the movie. On top of that, most of the dogs introduced in the shelter Rex winds up in are fairly likable.
However, all of this simply prevented the film from being unbearable as it does just enough wrong to qualify as the first truly bad film I saw last year. While the supporting characters are fine, the main leads are not. They set up obvious character arcs for them, but their development isn’t believable. Rex starts off pampered and spoiled, but rather than slowly learning about humility and togetherness, he just suddenly embraces it because the situation calls for it and nothing else.
But easily the most poorly handled is Wanda who only falls for Rex because of his status as the queen’s top dog and then just suddenly changes her mind and starts to legitimately care about him in the span of a minute. I wish I was exaggerating. All this great stuff she does for him throughout the film means nothing as all I can think about is how shallow she was at first and how sudden her shift in character was. It’s like the writers had a checklist of commonly seen character arcs but had no idea what to do with them.
And on top of that, the story loses quite a bit of focus during the second third, seeming to have no real idea of what it's trying to be. As such, while this film isn’t as painful as I thought it would be, it’s still bad.
But considering the low expectations I had, the fact that this is bad isn't what angers me. No, what angers me is that the first 5+ minutes are actually really good. They establish everything, the characters, their personalities, the main conflict, the lesson Rex has to learn, they get all of that down pat without any dialog. Reflecting on that makes me realize this movie actually had more potential than I initially thought. If the animals didn't talk or think like humans, this movie might have actually been legitimately good.
Oh yeah, like others have pointed out, this feels like it shouldn't have been aimed at families. I'm all for mature humor in family films, but this movie goes way too far, especially with the implied attempted rape from Trump's dog.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness