“DC League of Super-Pets” certainly sounds like a terrific idea for an animated film, or at least one that could prove to be a longer term, profitable cash cow for Warner Animation Group: take the popular comic book superhero Superman (voice of John Krasinski) and explore his relationship with his canine best friend, Krypto (voice of Dwayne Johnson). It’s a brainstorm that could lead to endless spin-offs and sequels about other DC characters and their companion animals, quality be damned. This film isn’t terrible, but it suffers with more misses than hits.
One night, Superman and his Justice League friends Wonder Woman (voice of Jameela Jamil), Batman (voice of Keanu Reeves), The Flash (voice of John Early), Green Lantern (voice of Dascha Polanco), Cyborg (voice of Daveed Diggs), and Aquaman (voice of Jemaine Clement), are kidnapped by rogue guinea pig Lulu (voice of Kate McKinnon) who previously resided in villain Lex Luthor’s (voice of Marc Maron) experimental lab. It’s looking bleak for the group of superheroes, and their only hope lies with the Man of Steel’s loyal dog Krypto. The loyal pup can’t do it alone, so he enlists the help of a pack of shelter animals who each have their own newfound powers to help with the dramatic rescue.
The animal characters, including Ace the hound (voice of Kevin Hart), PB the potbellied pig (voice of Vanessa Bayer), Merton the turtle (voice of Natasha Lyonne), and Chip the squirrel (voice of Diego Luna), are appealing. Each one has a distinctive personality and fun superpower, and it’s always enjoyable to watch as normal folks learn to use their newfound abilities. There are enough cute bits with the animals to keep the kids engaged.
What doesn’t work is the plot, a threadbare story with an unexciting script. The tone is all over the place: lighthearted and fun scenes take a turn for the dark and dramatic in an instant. Moments of real sincerity (like Ace’s story of how he ended up at the animal shelter) are diminished with dumb bits like a kitten who coughs up hairball-covered grenades and has a machine gun for a tail. That’s his superpower, sure: but it’s still lame.
There’s a lot of terrific stuff in this film (like the themes of loyalty, unconditional love, and friendship, and a good-hearted story at its core), but the parts that don’t work overshadow the rest. The great elements are absolutely fantastic, while the bad ones are truly awful. The animation looks inferior and feels rushed, especially in the poorly directed action scenes. The voice talent is below par too, with the exception of McKinnon and Lyonne. The majority of the jokes and gags are all too familiar or just plain stupid. It’s a shame because with such a wealth of source material to utilize, this could’ve been a creative, fun movie. Instead, “DC League of Super-Pets” is another underwhelming venture.