Let’s just say there aren’t a lot of storytelling superpowers on display in “DC League of Super-Pets,” a new animated adventure featuring the furry friends of Superman and the rest of the Justice League.
With voices by Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, Keanu Reeves and Diego Luna, this is disposable entertainment aimed straight at the under-12 crowd.
Johnson is Krypto, the lifelong canine companion of Superman/Clark Kent, with virtually the same powers and even a special trick or two up his collar. You may not remember Krypto from the Superman lore, so a helpful intro scene shows him sneaking into Kal-El’s spaceship right before it took off from his doomed planet.
Krypto lives and breathes everything Superman, seeing himself as his best buddy and sworn protector. But it also means he hasn’t rounded out the doggy part of his personality, finding it awkward to interact with “regular” pooches. He’s also resentful of Clark’s growing attachment to Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde), which threatens to upturn his inter-species bromance.
He stumbles into a pet shelter with an array of castoff critters: Ace (Hart), a Boxer with a gruff streetwise act; PB (Vanessa Bayer), a sweet-natured potbellied pig; Chip (Luna), a nervous red-tailed squirrel; and Merton (Natasha Lyonne), an elderly, nearsighted turtle.
Oh, and there’s also Lulu (McKinnon), a hairless guinea pig who used to be experimented upon by Superman’s nemesis, Lex Luthor (Marc Maron). She will serve the role of the film’s villain after all the pets in the shop get zapped by orange kryptonite, which instead of killing Superman gives others their own superpowers. In her case, telekineses.
McKinnon, as she often is, is the best thing about the whole enterprise, giving Lulu a sort of bored charm. She’s conniving and evil, but also has a quality of naiveté about her. She also whips up a small army of fellow guinea pigs with their own individual powers, headlined by Mark and Keith, best buds who must be careful about crossing their fire and ice abilities.
Ace gains some super-strength and invulnerability, Merton gets super-speedy, Chip can blast electrical bolts from his paws, and PB can shrink or grow to seemingly any size.
The rest of the Justice League is there too, from Wonder Woman (Jameela Jamil) to Batman (Reeves), who’s seen by the others as a super-downer for his constant kvetching about dead parents and whatnot. But they’re largely relegated to the background, all kidnapped and imprisoned along with Superman (Krasinski) by Lulu and her minions.
Expect lots of gross kid-friendly humor, like about all the nasty things dogs can smell, or their affinity for their own bodily excretions. The action scenes are reasonably well-staged, and the animation is what you’d expect of a theatrical feature, rather than the cut-rate jobs I’ve seen on some recent streaming examples.
Directed by Jared Stern from a screenplay he co-wrote with John Whittington, “DC League of Super-Pets” is fairly uninspired but unobjectionable. You will take your wonder kids and they will like it, and you will like that they like it, and you’ll all forget about it within a month.
As for me? This’ll be gone from my brain by the weekend. Jettisoning unambitious movies from the cerebral cortex is my superpower — gosh knows I need in this line of work.