The last of this summer’s big studio animated films to get a theatrical release comes out on Friday in DC League of Super-Pets, and critics are bullish on its potential to appeal to a wide audience.
In DC League of Super-Pets, Krypto the Super-Dog is an alien’s best friend, Superman in this case, and the two share the same superpowers which they use to fight crime together. When Superman and the rest of the Justice League are kidnapped, Krypto assembles a group of super shelter animals to team up and rescue the heroes.
DC League of Super-Pets is directed by The Lego Batman Movie writer Jared Stern with veteran artist Sam Levine (director of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, animation department on Tarzan, Meet the Robinsons) on board as co-director. Stern also wrote the film’s screenplay with regular collaborator John Whittington (The Lego Batman Movie, Sonic the Hedgehog 2). Super-Pets’ stacked voice cast includes Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, John Krasinski, Marc Maron, Keanu Reeves, Jemaine Clement, Daveed Diggs, John Early, Jameela Jamil, Olivia Wilde, and David Pressman.
DC League of Super-Pets currently has 41 reviews reported on Rotten Tomatoes, 30 of which are positive. On Metacritic’s Negative-Mixed-Positive scale, only one of the 17 reported reviews falls into the negative category. Among critics, there is a nearly unanimous consensus that the film’s humor should appeal to the broadest audience possible, with jokes and references aimed at kids and adults alike. Many of the reviews also praise the film’s low bar of entry for those not yet familiar with the DC super hero universe.
Here’s a look at what the critics are saying:
Polygon’s Samantha Nelson compared DC League of Super-Pets favorably to the best the genre has to offer:
As with The Lego Batman Movie, the best part of DC League of Super-Pets is the writers’ intimate knowledge of and love for the source material, which they use to keep the movie moving with clever gags and even more brilliant callbacks… This is definitely a kids’ movie made for adults, with dark jokes like TV coverage of Luthor’s arrest featuring the astonished caption “Wealthy person actually goes to jail.”
Alonso Duralde at The Wrap appreciated the film’s many comedic references for viewers of all ages:
The screenplay is also skilled at pitching jokes both to kids (there’s a Paw Patrol gag that will make four-year-olds everywhere think, “I get that reference!”) and to adults (Winona Bradshaw voices the adorable but homicidal kitty Whiskers, who borrows catchphrases from A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Warriors as she corners her prey).
Deadline’s Valerie Complex places the film ahead of most of DC’s live-action efforts:
DC animation has always been miles ahead of its live-action content, and the League of Super-Pets has earned the right to sit amongst the best DC offers. It’s sharply written, the voice-over work is exceptional because of the film’s talented cast, and the villain is honestly one of the best in the DC cinematic universe so far. The story has something for everyone. Young children, as well as adults, will enjoy it. DCU fans will recognize some key moments borrowed from other films (like a particular scene ripped right out of Man Of Steel).
Screen Daily’s Tim Grierson, while entertained, was less enthused about the film’s overall ability to entertain for its full runtime.
On the whole, Super-Pets does serve as a nice counterbalance to the amped-up antics that have become de rigueur in superhero cinema. Although the likes of Superman, Batman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman get spoofed, there’s a winning wholesomeness to the proceedings that’s largely gone out of favor in the genre. It’s a pity, then, that Stern can’t come up with a better story to complement his film’s sweet temperament. A dog’s love may be unconditional, but our patience for mediocre comic-book pictures is far from inexhaustible.
One of the rare dissenting opinions on the film’s appeal comes from Empire’s John Nugent:
Despite a fun voice cast, this is a lazy effort that squanders its characters, and will likely bore anyone over the age of ten. Bad dog!
“DC League of Super-Pets” is a Warner Bros. release of a Seven Bucks Productions film. It’s produced by Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Patricia Hicks, Dwayne Johnson, and Jared Stern.