A surprisingly untapped market in the current superhero war is the animated kids' film. While both Marvel and DC both have direct-to-video animated projects, DC rules this market releasing upwards of five titles a year, but the theatrical space has been left fairly untouched. Marvel experienced massive critical success with 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' in 2018 and DC had 'Teen Titans Go! To the Movies' based on the animated series, these have been the only two titles to tap into this market in this current wave. Now, DC are pulling no punches with 'DC League of Super-Pets', hoping to not only bask in superhero success but the animated talking animals genre.
During the destruction of Krypton, a baby Clark Kent (John Krasinski, 'A Quiet Place', 'Detroit') is sent to earth by his parents - but he isn't travelling alone. His ship has a cute pup, Krypto (Dwayne Johnson, 'Red Notice', 'Jungle Cruise'), aboard. The two grow up together and fight crime with their superpowers, but now an adult Clark AKA Superman has fallen in love with new reporter Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde, 'Richard Jewell', 'Rush') and plans to propose to her. This causes tension between these best friends, and when Superman gets kidnapped it's up to Krypto to put aside their differences and find him. Krypto can't do this alone - and as more and more of the Justice League goes missing, he has to team up with Ace (Kevin Hart, 'Jumanji: The Next Level', 'The Secret Life of Pets 2'), PB (Vanessa Bayer, 'Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar', 'Office Christmas Party'), Merton (Natasha Lyonne, 'The United States vs. Billie Holiday', 'Irresistible') and Chip (Diego Luna, 'Rouge One', 'If Beale Street Could Talk') from the local pound, all of who have recently developed superpowers.
'DC League of Super-Pets' is what we have come to expect from the modern trend of family films. It had your cute animals, simple jokes, a paint-by-numbers plot and an incredibly stacked cast. As far as animated films go, it's another perfectly fine cinema trip for families, but don't expect it to be the next children's classic. Like many DC ventures, the film also feels the need to throw everything at the screen in the hope that something can turn into a spin-off film and sometimes just forgets to be a fun kids' film instead of a cameo fest.
Being a part of the DC universe, the film has the advantage of having the rights to all of those characters, and that allows for some fun meta jokes and cameos, making it an easier pick for parents. As always, the stacked cast is wasted and just here to be a name on the poster: Johnson and Hart are the same dynamic we have seen a dozen times already. Keanu Reeves ('Bill and Ted Face the Music', 'The Matrix Resurrections') is a funny pull for Batman, but all of the members of the Justice League are such a back burner to the rest of the film that it's easy to forget he was even there. The film also has the god-awful trend of replacing characters with local talent; in Australia, Fire and Water Guinea Pigs are not voiced by Thomas Middleditch ('Zombieland: Double Tap') and Ben Schwartz ('Sonic the Hedgehog') but Aussies Dr Chris Brown (TV's 'The Living Room') and Julia Morris (TV's 'I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!). It's so jarring to hear them and I'm sure Morris was once funny, but it's such a distraction to have them here amongst the A+ talent. The fact they are also replacing named comedians is very pointless and not something this kind of film needed to get a school holidays push. The three real standout voices here are all from actual comedians - Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne and Kate McKinnon ('Yesterday', 'Ghostbusters'), the last of who, voices the film's villain, an evil hairless guinea pig named Lulu. They are the only three actually doing character voices, and they all have some of the most memorable lines.
It had your cute animals, simple jokes, a paint-by-numbers plot and an incredibly stacked cast. As far as animated films go, it's another perfectly fine cinema trip for families, but don't expect it to be the next children's classic.
All in all, 'DC League of Super-Pets' is another harmless animated family venture that doesn't overstay its welcome. It's funny and has some nice animation, but it's not a game-changer for either the animated or superhero genre.