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DC League of Super-Pets Breathes New Life into A Stale Genre: Review

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A pet is more than an animal that keeps us company. They are part of the family, a member who loves you unconditionally (even if they don’t show it) who provides a sense of comfort and a bond that is hard to break. But what if that bond is fractured, has shifted or is misunderstood? What happens to those animals who never experienced the love of an owner, who was given up by a family following an incident or felt threatened by a new person in their owner’s life?

In a world where superhero movies and TV shows are released every week, DC League of Super-Pets doesn’t take us inside the lives of the superheroes we’ve seen before, but the pets who love them, are inspired by them and want to be loved by them.

We all know the story of Kal-El’s being sent to Earth to live as the destruction of Krypton surrounds them. A fragile and scared baby leaving behind the life and parents he’ll never get to know; forced to navigate a new planet and its species alone. What if his beloved puppy Krypto was there with him from the very beginning? 

In DC League Super-Pets, Clark and Krypto are inseparable, fighting side-by-side in Metropolis to stop crime, outsmart Lex Luther’s plans and protect the people of earth. For Krypto, their bond hasn’t been stronger. That’s until the appearance of Lois Lane, who Krypto feels is stepping in-between his bond and his routine with “Supes,” especially when Superman leaves him — on their regularly scheduled TV night to go out on a date with Lois, to whom he intends to propose to. Heartbroken, Krypto feels a growing sense of abandonment.

Someone who knows what it feels like to be abandoned are shelter animals Ace the hound (Kevin Hart), PB the potbellied pig (Vanessa Bayer), Merton the turtle (Natasha Lyonne) and Chip the squirrel (Diego Luna), who spend their days dreaming about freedom (or adoption) while in their cages. Led by Ace, they have become a family, finding strength, comfort and hilarity with each other. But could they be destined for more? Could they be destined for a life no animal could fathom?

Everything changes for both the shelter animals and Krypto during one fateful night when Superman and the rest of the Justice League, Batman (Keanu Reeves), Wonder Woman (Jameela Jamil), Aquaman (Jermaine Clement), The Flash (John Early), Green Lantern (Dascha Polanco) and Cyborg (Daveed Diggs) are kidnapped by the evil genius guinea pig Lola (Kate McKinnon), who also possesses telekinetic powers. To make matters worse, she manages to rob Krypto of his superpowers.

While Krypto may be the Man of Steel’s best friend, Krypto only knows life as a Super-Pet and has no idea how to simply be a dog, or even befriend anything with four legs. So, when Krypto learns that Superman is abducted by a telekinetic guinea pig and all-powerful evil genius, Lulu, Krypto— who’s suddenly lost his powers—turns to the only other critters he knows.

Two worlds clash (for the better or worse) when Krypto is forced to recruit the rag-tag pack in hopes of them mastering their own courage and newfound powers to help him rescue the Superheroes. Unfortunately, Krypto’s track record with this crew isn’t great, so he’ll have to do a lot of begging to get them on board if they’re to have any chance of rescuing Supes—and, as it turns out, his super friends in the Justice League—before the Justice League meet their demise.

Directed by Jared Stern, who honed his craft while serving as a writer and creative consultant on several of the LEGO animated films, including The Lego Batman Movie, League of Super-Pets is a heartwarming, hilarious film perfect for adults and children. Co-written by John Whittington, they have created a perfect balance of hilarity as gerbils fights for world dominance with the emotional weight of a leader who doesn’t have all the answers.

Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson’s friendship is well documented and their chemistry as two dogs forced to rely on each other permeates the screen. They confide in each other, trust each other while also not being able to stand each other, yet there is an unspoken bond between the two. Kevin, known for his comedic timing, is funny but is also able to draw out the script’s more powerful, insightful moments even inbetween the silences. What could have easily been portrayed as a one-dimensional character, takes full form with Kevin’s depth.

Even though Dwayne and Kevin are the leads, the entire cast brings their A-game in a script that allows everyone to shine. Natasha Lyonne as Merton is hilarious, sounding like a grumpy chain-smoking grandpa who can’t see, transforms into a slightly happier yet still grumpy grandpa. While Vanessa Bayer brings a sense of positivity and hopefulness as PB, who just wants to be like her idol, Wonder Woman. By encouraging herself, she helps to encourage others.

Does the movie feature some paint-by-numbers plot points and montages? Yes, but this is a kid’s movie full of fun, something people have forgotten. But they never overtake the script or stop the enjoyment of the film. There are plenty of adult moments to enjoy for those who are aware of DC’s lore. There’s even a Marvel mention.

At its essence, DC League of Super-Pets is about the beautiful relationship between humans and their pets. The movie is not only charming and filled with engaging action sequences and crisp animation, but it’s a great way to introduce children to the DC Universe.

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