When I first saw the trailer last year, DC League of Super-Pets hardly gave me that “must-watch checklist” vibe. And zooming forward to today, I kept my expectations low when I finally get to watch the animated feature in its entirety.
The result? It wasn’t as bad as I thought because I was initially expecting this to be nothing more than a typical, kid-friendly anthropomorphic animal-superhero movie that relies heavily on juvenile humour. But it wasn’t a great one either, just decent enough as a reasonably entertaining and at times, surprisingly poignant animated feature. The latter is especially true during the opening sequence. Frankly, it was something that I least expected in the first place but it works well as it immediately establishes a strong bonding between Superman and his beloved dog, Krypto.
The story — credited to Jared Stern and John Whittington of 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie fame — focuses on the inseparable pair between Superman (voiced by John Krasinski) and Krypto (Dwayne Johnson). Together, they save the day against any threats in the city and up to this point, everything seems perfect. But not for long when Krypto finds out about Superman is going to propose to his reporter-girlfriend, Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde) and worries that he might be sidelined.
Elsewhere, Lex Luthor (Marc Maron) is trying to get his hand on a piece of orange kryptonite from a meteor that could give him the superpowers. Superman and Krypto attempt to stop him with the help of the Justice League team members including Batman (Keanu Reeves), Wonder Woman (Jameela Jamil), Aquaman (Jemaine Clement), The Flash (John Early), Cyborg (Daveed Diggs) and Green Lantern (Dascha Polanco).
Long story short, the orange kryptonite ended up in a local animal shelter and it gives the animals superpowers instead. This includes Ace (Kevin Hart), PB the pig (Vanessa Bayer), Merton the turtle (Natasha Lyonne) and Chip the squirrel (Diego Luna). Lulu (Kate McKinnon), the hairless guinea pig who is once a test subject for Luthor’s LexCorp, happens to be there as well and the newfound power allows her to break free and successfully defeat Superman and the rest of the Justice League team.
With the Justice League held in captivity, it’s up to Krypto to save his owner and the rest and the only thing he can do so is to enlist the help of the superpowered animals from the shelter.
DC League of Super-Pets benefits from a better-than-expected voice cast. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, who have worked together several times (four, to be exact) since 2016’s Central Intelligence, shared good comic timings as two mismatched dogs who don’t see eye to eye with each other. The rest of the voice cast is just as commendable, with solid support from John Krasinski as Superman and others like Natasha Lyonne as Merton the turtle and Kate McKinnon as Lulu. Keanu Reeves, in the meantime, is perfect for the Batman role, whose impassive personality and deadpan delivery often steal the show here. Also, look out for an earlier cameo appearance of a dog in the park named Waffles (voiced by Malaysian actor Sean Lee). His hilarious Manglish accent is definitely the highlight here.
I have to admit the story itself is downright predictable but the aforementioned voice cast, coupled with some clever in-jokes and puns from 2017’s Justice League to even unlikely movies, namely A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) that co-directors Jared Stern and Sam Levine are clearly having fun mocking them. The animation is vibrant and colourful as it should be.
DC League of Super-Pets runs at 106 minutes long and personally, I thought it would be nice if they manage to keep it at a lean 90 minutes instead since certain padded-out moments could have used some trimmings. Remember not to leave your seat once the end credits start rolling, though. Stick around for the mid-credit and particularly, the post-credit stingers.