Review: ‘DC League of Super-Pets,’ starring the voices of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart

July 26, 2022

by Carla Hay

Merton (voiced by Natasha Lyonne), PB (voiced by Vanessa Bayer), Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), Chip (voiced by Diego Luna) and Ace (voiced by Kevin Hart) in “DC League of Super-Pets” (Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

“DC League of Super-Pets”

Directed by Jared Stern; co-directed by Sam Levine

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in the fictional city of Metropolis, the animated film “DC League of Super-Pets” features a racially diverse cast (white, black, Asian and Latino) portraying talking animals, superheroes and citizens of Metropolis.

Culture Clash: Inspired by DC Comics characters, “DC League of Super-Pets” features a group of domesticated pets, including Superman’s dog Krypto, fighting crime and trying to save the world from an evil guinea pig that is loyal to supervillain Lex Luthor.

Culture Audience: “DC League of Super-Pets” will appeal primarily to fans of DC Comics, the movie’s cast members and adventure-filled animated movies centered on talking animals.

Lulu (voiced by Kate McKinnon) in “DC League of Super-Pets” (Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Even though “DC League of Super-Pets” sometimes gets cluttered with subplots and characters, this animated film is a treat that has a winning combination of pets and superheroes. There’s plenty to like for people of many ages. In addition to the appeal of having familiar characters from DC Comics, “DC League of Super-Pets” is a well-cast film for its voice actors, because the cast members bring their own unique flairs to the characters. It’s helpful but not necessary to have knowledge of DC Comics characters before watching this movie.

Directed by Jared Stern and co-directed by Sam Levine, “DC League of Super-Pets” makes good use of mixing zany comedy, engaging action and some heartwarming and touching moments. Stern makes his feature-film directorial debut with “DC League of Super-Pets,” which he co-wrote with John Whittington. Stern and Whittington also co-wrote 2017’s “The Lego Batman Movie.” Where “DC League of Super-Pets” falters is when it tries to cram in certain plot developments to the point where “DC League of Super-Pets” comes dangerously close to biting off more than it can chew. (No pun intended.)

If you have no interest in watching an animated movie about pets and would-be pets of superheroes, then “DC League of Super-Pets” probably is not for you. The world already has more than enough animated films about talking animals. However, “DC League of Super-Pets” mostly succeeds at being entertaining when putting comic book characters in a predictable but dependable story of a group of misfits that become friends while trying to save the world.

“DC League of Super-Pets” begins by showing how Superman (whose birth name is Kal-El) ended up with his loyal Labrador Retriever dog Krypto. Kal-El was born on the planet Krypton. When he was a baby, Krypton went under attack, so his parents put Kal-El on a spaceship alone and sent him to Earth for his safety. Kal-El’s parents Jor-El (voiced by Alfred Molina) and Lara (voiced by Lena Headey) say their emotional goodbye to Kal-El.

Jor-El says, “Krypton is about to die.” Lara adds, “But you, dear son, will live on.” Suddenly, the family’s Labrador Retriever puppy jumps on the spaceship with Kal-El. At first, Jor-El wants to try to get the dog back, but the space ship has already been set in motion. Lara tells Jor-El: “Our boy will need a friend.” Jor-El says to the dog: “Watch over our son.”

Years later, Kal-El is now an adult living in the big city of Metropolis under the name Clark Kent. He’s a bachelor who works as a reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper, but Clark Kent is an alter ego to his secret identity: a superhero named Superman (voiced by John Krasinski), who has super-strength, X-ray vision and the ability to fly. The dog, named Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), is still his loyal companion and knows about the secret life of Superman, because Krypto often fights crime alongside Superman.

Krypto has superpowers that are the same as Superman’s superpowers. And they both have the same weakness: an energy force called kryptonite that can drain their superpowers. Krypto and Superman are a lot alike, when it comes to how they view crime and justice. However, Superman and Krypto are very different when it comes to adapting to life on Earth: Superman/Clark Kent is social with humans, while Kypto is very aloof with other pets on Earth.

An early scene in the movie shows Krypto trying to get Superman to wake up because Krypto wants to go for a walk. But “walking the dog” for Superman really means “flying through the air with the dog.” Krypto often leads the way on the leash. The Metropolis in “DC League of Super-Pets” is designed to look like a modern, well-kept city with many tall buildings, just like in the comic books.

In this version of Metropolis, Superman is such a familiar sight, no one really thinks it’s unusual to see Superman in a park with his dog Krypto. It’s during one of these park outings that Krypto sees that things at home will soon change for Superman and Krypto. Superman/Clark Kent and his Daily Planet journalist co-worker Lois Lane (voiced by Olivia Wilde) are very much in love, and they meet at the park for a date. They show lovey-dovey public displays of affection, much to Krypto’s dismay.

The relationship between Superman/Clark Kent and Lois has gotten serious enough where it looks like this couple could be headed toward marriage. Krypto is jealous and fearful that Superman/Clark Kent will no longer have the time and attention for Krypto if Lois moves in with them. Krypto doesn’t dislike Lois. Krypto just sees her as a threat to the comfortable existence he has always known with Superman/Clark Kent.

As Krypto worries about how his home life will change if Lois moves in, some other pets in Metropolis are worried if they’ll ever have a permanent home. At an animal shelter called Tailhuggers, several pets are up for adoption, but so far, they have no takers. The shelter is run by a bachelorette named Patty (voiced by Yvette Nicole Brown), who is very kind to the pets and keeps them under vigilant protection.

Brash and sarcastic hound dog Ace (voiced by Kevin Hart) is the leader of the shelter pets. Other animals at the shelter are elderly turtle Merton (voiced by Natasha Lyonne), cheerful pig PB (voiced by Vanessa Bayer) and nervous squirrel Chip (voiced by Diego Luna), who are Ace’s closest friends at the shelter. Also at the shelter is a cat name Whiskers (voiced by Winona Bradshaw), whose loyalty to the shelter pets is later tested.

Ace is anxious to run away from the shelter and is constantly plotting his escape. He tells his animal shelter friends that he knows of a paradise-like farm upstate where they can all go to live freely. One day, Ace actually manages to run away from the shelter, but he doesn’t go far. He’s literally stopped in his tracks by “law and order” Krypto, who uses his superpowers to freeze Ace’s legs to the sidewalk when he sees that Ace is a runaway shelter dog. Needless to say, Ace and Krypto clash with each other the first time that they meet.

Meanwhile, Superman has a crime-fighting incident where he summons the help of his Justice League superhero colleagues: Batman (voiced by Keanu Reeves), Wonder Woman (voiced by Jamila Jamil), Aquaman (voiced by Jemaine Clement), Green Lantern (voiced by Dascha Polanco), The Flash (voiced by John Early) and Cyborg (voiced by Daveed Diggs). Through a series of incidents, all of these superheroes are captured by billionaire supervillain (and longtime Superman nemesis) Lex Luthor (voiced by Marc Maron), who is keeping his captives hidden in a secret lair. Lex also has a cynical assistant named Mercy Graves (voiced by Maya Erksine), who isn’t in the movie as much as she could have been. Mercy’s screen time is less than five minutes.

All of that would be enough of a plot for this movie, but “DC League of Super-Pets” also has a plot about a devious guinea pig named Lulu (voiced by Kate McKinnon), who manages to escape from a Lex Luthor-owned scientific lab that was experimenting on guinea pigs. Somehow, Lulu gets ahold of orange kryptonite (she’s immune to kryptonite), she develops telekinesis powers, and goes on a mission to prove her loyalty to Lex by trying to destroy the Justice League.

Lulu has an army of former lab guinea pigs to do her bidding. Two of Lulu’s most loyal of these accomplices are mutant guinea pigs that also have newfound superpowers: Mark (voiced by Ben Schwartz) is fiery red and can shoot flames, while Keith (voiced by Thomas Middleditch) is ice-blue and has the ability to freeze things. Lulu also has a plot to (cliché alert) take over the world.

It should come as no surprise that Krypto ends up joining forces with Ace, Merton, PB and Chip to try to save the Justice League and save the world. During the course of the story, certain superpowers are gained, lost and possibly gained again for certain characters. Viewers of “DC League of Super-Pets” should not expect the Justice League superheroes and Lex Luthor to get a lot of screen time, because the movie is more about the pets.

Lulu’s revenge plot gets a little convoluted, but not so confusing that very young children won’t be able to understand. The movie has the expected high-energy antics, with animation and visual effects that aren’t groundbreaking but are aesthetically pleasing on almost every level. Once viewers get used to all the characters that are quickly introduced in the movie, it makes “DC League of Super-Pets” more enjoyable.

The movie has some recurring jokes, such as self-referencing all the movies and licensing deals that come from comic-book superheroes. “DC League of Super-Pets” also has a running gag of guinea pig Lulu being insulted when she’s often misidentified as a hamster. After one such misidentification, Lulu snarls, “A hamster is just a dollar-store gerbil!”

Lulu has some of the funniest lines in the movie. When she sees the DC League of Super-Pets together, she makes this snarky comment: “What is this? PAW Patrol?” And even though Batman isn’t in the movie for a lot of time, he also has some memorable one-liners, which he delivers in a deadpan manner.

It soon becomes obvious that these Super-Pets have another purpose besides saving the world: Each pet will be paired with a Justice League superhero. PB is a big fan of Wonder Woman. This star-struck pig thinks that Wonder Woman has the confidence and independent spirit that PB thinks is lacking in PB’s own personality.

Turtles are known for walking slow, so it should come as no surprise that Merton admires The Flash, whose known for his superpower of lightning-fast speed. Ace sees himself as an “alpha male” who strikes out on his own when he has to do so, which makes Batman a kindred spirit. Chip is attracted to the fearlessness of Green Lantern. As for Aquaman and Cyborg, it’s shown at the end of the movie which pets will be paired with them.

Amid the action and comedy, “DC League of Super-Pets” also has some meaningful messages about finding a family of friends. Ace has a poignant backstory about how he ended up at an animal shelter. Ace’s background explains why he puts up a tough exterior to hide his vulnerability about being abandoned.

Johnson (who is one of the producers of “DC League of Super-Pets”) and Hart have co-starred in several movies together. Their comedic rapport as lead characters Krypto and Ace remains intact and one of the main reasons why “DC League of Super-Pets” has voice cast members who are perfectly suited to each other. Hart is a lot less grating in “DC League of Super-Pets” than he is in some of his other movies, where he often plays an over-the-top-buffoon.

Even though Ace is an animated dog, he has more heart than some of the human characters that Hart has played in several of his mediocre-to-bad movies, Law-abiding Krypto and rebellious Ace have opposite personalities, but they learn a lot from each other in ways that they did not expect. All of the other heroic characters have personal growth in some way too.

“DC League of Super-Pets” is a recommended watch for anyone who wants some escapist animation with entertainment personalities. The movie’s mid-credits scene and end-credits scene indicate that “DC League of Super-Pets” is the beginning of a movie series. It’s very easy to imagine audiences wanting more of these characters in movies if the storytelling is good.

Warner Bros. Pictures will release “DC League of Super-Pets” in U.S. cinemas on July 29, 2022.

2020 Golden Globe Awards: presenters announced

January 3, 2020

by Carla Hay

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the organization the votes for the Golden Globe Awards) and Dick Clark Productions (which co-produces the Golden Globes telecast) have announced the presenters of the 2020 Golden Globe Awards ceremony, which takes place January 5 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills California. NBC will have the U.S. telecast of the show, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time/5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Here are the presenters in alphabetical order:

  • Tim Allen
  • Jennifer Aniston*
  • Christian Bale*
  • Antonio Banderas*
  • Jason Bateman
  • Annette Bening*
  • Cate Blanchett*
  • Matt Bomer
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Glenn Close
  • Daniel Craig*
  • Ted Danson
  • Ana de Armas*
  • Leonardo DiCaprio*
  • Ansel Elgort
  • Chris Evans
  • Dakota Fanning
  • Will Ferrell
  • Lauren Graham
  • Tiffany Haddish
  • Kit Harington*
  • Salma Hayek
  • Scarlett Johansson*
  • Elton John*
  • Nick Jonas
  • Harvey Keitel
  • Zoe Kravitz
  • Jennifer Lopez*
  • Rami Malek*
  • Kate McKinnon
  • Helen Mirren
  • Jason Momoa
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Amy Poehler
  • Brad Pitt*
  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph
  • Margot Robbie*
  • Paul Rudd*
  • Wesley Snipes
  • Octavia Spencer
  • Bernie Taupin*
  • Charlize Theron*
  • Sofia Vergara
  • Kerry Washington
  • Naomi Watts
  • Rachel Weisz
  • Reese Witherspoon*

*2020 Golden Globe Awards nominee

Ricky Gervais is hosting the show. Tom Hanks will be receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement, while Ellen DeGeneres will be getting the Carol Burnett Award, which is given to people who have excelled in comedy. The Carol Burnett Award debuted at the Golden Globes in 2019, and Burnett was the first recipient of the prize. Dylan and Paris Brosnan (sons of Pierce Brosnan) will serve as the 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors.

Click here for a complete list of nominations for the 2020 Golden Globe Awards.

2018 CinemaCon: What to expect at this year’s event

April 23, 2018

by Carla Hay

CinemaCon

CinemaCon, the annual convention for the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), will be held April 23 to April 26, 2018, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. About 5,000 people attend the event, which gives movie studios the chance to showcase what they expect to be their biggest hits of the year.

Movie studios scheduled to give their presentations at the event are Sony Pictures Entertainment on April 23; Walt Disney Studios, STX Films and Warner Bros. Pictures on April 24; Entertainment Studios, Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Paramount Pictures on April 25; and 20th Century Fox, Amazon Studios and Lionsgate on April 26.

One of the highlights of CinemaCon 2018 will be the 2018 Pioneer of the Year Award Dinner on April 25. The event will honor Tom Cruise, the first actor to ever receive the award. Tony-and-Grammy-Award-winning “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. will perform at the event, which will include a special presentation from Cruise’s “Jack Reacher” director Christopher McQuarrie, who also directed Cruise in 2015’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and 2018’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.”

CinemaCon culminates with the CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards ceremony, which will take place April 26.

Here are the announced winners of the awards:

CinemaCon Lifetime Award
Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

Jodie Foster has been one of the most critically acclaimed actors in movies since made her big-screen debut in 1972’s “Napoleon and Samantha.” Her most famous movies include 1976’s “Taxi Driver,” 1997’s “Contact” and 2002’s “Panic Room.” She has two Oscars for Best Actress: for  1988’s “The Accused” and 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs.” In 2018, her thriller film “Hotel Artemis” is set for release. Foster has also become a respected director and producer, having helmed several feature films, including 1991’s “Little Man Tate,” 1995’s “Home for the Holidays,” 2011’s “The Beaver” and 2016’s “Money Monster.”

CinemaCon Icon Award
Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

In a career spanning more than 45 years, Oscar-nominated Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in more blockbusters than any other actor. His hit films include 1993’s “Jurassic Park,” 1994’s “Pulp Fiction,” “Star Wars” Episodes I II and III, 2004’s “The Incredibles,” 2012’s “Django Unchained” and several Marvel Studios films, such 2010’s “Iron Man 2,” 2011’s “Captain America; The First Avenger,”  2012’s “The Avengers,” 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” 2015’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The prolific Jackson has several movies scheduled for release. In 2018, his movies include “The Last Full Measure,” “Incredibles 2” and “Life Itself.” In 2019, he has three movies that are predicted to be big hits: “Glass” (the hybrid sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2017’s “Split”), “Captain Marvel” and a remake of “Shaft.”

CinemaCon Visionary Award
Jack Black

CinemaCon Vanguard Award
Jonah Hil

Jack Black and Jonah Hill (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)

Jack Black and Jonah Hill are co-stars in 2018’s “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.” Although they have appeared in dramas, they are mostly known for their comedic roles. Black’s biggest hits include 2017’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” the “Kung Fu Panda” movies, 2003’s “School of Rock” and 2005’s “King Kong.” His other 2018 movie is “The House With a Clock in Its Walls.”

Hill, who received Oscar nominations for supporting roles in 2011’s “Moneyball” and 2013’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” has appeared in a number of hit movies, including 2007’s “Superbad,” 2012’s “21 Jump Street,” 2013’s “This Is the End,” 2014’s “22 Jump Street” and the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies. He’s also reunited with his “Superbad” co-star Emma Stone in the Netflix series “Maniac.”  In 2019, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is due out in cinemas.

CinemaCon Award of Excellence in Acting
Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones (Photo by Christopher Polk)

Felicity Jones had carved out a niche in independent films (usually dramas) before she was nominated for an Oscar for her supporting role in 2014’s “The Theory of Everything.” Since then, her career has grown by leaps in bounds, including starring roles in 2016’s biggest blockbuster, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” and 2016’s “Inferno.” In 2017, she starred in the critically acclaimed “Breathe.” She plays U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2018’s “On the Basis of Sex.”

CinemaCon Male Star of the Year
Benicio Del Toro

Benicio Del Toro (Photo by Richard Foreman Jr.)

Benicio Del Toro won an Oscar for his supporting role in 2000’s “Traffic.” He has developed a reputation for playing brooding, often mysterious characters in critically acclaimed movies that range from ,ow-budget independent films to major blockbusters. Del Toro’s best-known movies include 1995’s “The Usual Suspects,” 2013’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and 2015’s “Sicario” and 2016’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”  His movies set for release in 2018 are “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” which is expected to the biggest box-office hit of the year.

CinemaCon Female Star of the Year
Dakota Johnson

Dakota Johnson (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Coming from from a family of famous actors (her parents are Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith; her maternal grandmother is Tippi Hedren; and her former stepfather is Antonio Banderas), Dakota Johnson has forged her most recognizable identity in movies as the star of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy. She has four very different movies in 2018: S&M-themed romantic drama “Fifty Shades Freed,” the horror movie “Suspiria” and the thriller “Bad Times at the El Royale.”

CinemaCon Director of the Year
Ryan Coogler

Ryan Coogler (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)

After directing just three feature films (2014’s “Fruitvale Station,” “2015’s “Creed” and 2018’s “Black Panther”), Ryan Coogler has become one of the hottest filmmakers in Hollywood, thanks to the blockbuster success of “Black Panther,” which broke the record for the highest-grossing film to open in February. The movie also earned rave reviews from critics, and “Black Panther” is set to be in the Top 5 of the highest-grossing movies of 2018.

CinemaCon Breakthrough Producer of the Year
Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union (Photo courtesy of BET)

Gabrielle Union is not new to making movies (she’s starred in 2000’s “Bring It On” and 2012’s “Think Like a Man, among other films), but she is relatively new to producing movies. Union was an executive producer of her 2016 comedy film “Almost Christmas,” and she’s a producer of her 2018 thriller “Breaking In.”

CinemaCon Action Star of the Year
Taron Egerton

Taron Egerton (Photo by Larry Horricks)

Taron Egerton is best known to movie audiences as the star of the “Kingsman” movies: 2014’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and 2017’s “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” His 2018 movies are the big-screen version of the true-crime drama “The Billionaire Boys Club” and as the iconic title character in “Robin Hood.” Egerton is also set to star as Elton John in the biopic “Rocketman,” whose release date is to be announced.

Cinema Spotlight Award
Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Anna Kendrick is best known for starring in the “Pitch Perfect” comedy/musical movies, but she is equally adept at doing dramas, such as her Oscar-nominated turn for her supporting role in 2009’s “Up in the Air.” Her 2018 movie is “A Simple Favor,” a mystery thriller

CinemaCon Female Star of Tomorrow Award
Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish (Photo by Michele K. Short)

Tiffany Haddish is a longtime stand-up comedian, but she had a major breakthrough in movies with her much-talked-about role in the 2017 comedy smash “Girls Trip.” Since then, her career has been on a hot streak, with starring role in TV and movies, including four films due out in 2018: “Uncle Drew,” “Night School,” “The Oath” and “Nobody’s Fool.”

CinemaCon Breakthrough Performer of the Year
LilRel Howery

LilRel Howery (Photo by Jason Lubin)

LilRel Howery made movie audiences stand up and take notice as the wise-cracking TSA worker in the 2017 horror blockbuster “Get Out.” It was a small but memorable role for the actor who was previously known on screen for starring as Bobby Carmichael in “The Carmichael Show.” Howery’s 2018 movies are the comedy “Uncle Drew” and the sci-fi thriller “Birdbox.”

CinemaCon Comedy Star of the Year
Kate McKinnon

Kate McKinnon (Photo by Adam Rose/ABC)

Kate McKinnon has already won multiple Emmys for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” but she has also made her mark on the big screen, with scene-stealing roles in 2016’s “Ghostbusters” remake, 2017’s “Rough Night” and 2017’s “Ferdinand.” In 2018, her comedy movies set for release are “Irreplaceable You” and “The Spy Who Dumped Me.”

Other awards that will be given at the ceremony:

  • CinemaCon International Filmmaker of the Year Award: J.A. Bayona, director of 2018’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”
  • CinemaCon Passpartout Award: Kurt Rieder,  20th  Century Fox International executive VP for theatrical in the Asia Pacific region
  • NATO Marquee Award: Alejandro Ramírez Magaña, Cinépolis CEO/general director
  • Career Achievement in Exhibition Award: Robert Carrady, Caribbean Cinemas president
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