Existential Crises happen at the funniest times. As I, one of four people in the movie theater on this particular Friday afternoon, sat in my assigned leather recliner chair patiently waiting for DC League of Super-Pets, a thought crossed my mind; “have we gone too far?” I have already paid to see my fair share of superhero movies in 2022 (and this is before factoring in that the torture that was sitting through Morbius counts quadruple), did we really need to see yet another iteration of these characters we know so well? This version being animated and with…powerful pets? The answer, based on early box office returns and my personal experience, is an overwhelming yes. DC League of Super-Pets is not game changing in any way. In fact, it is about as cookie cutter as it gets. That’s just fine, because it nails all of the small subtleties that make for a fun kids movie which adults can easily sit through with a smile on their face.
With any movie like this, you have to start with the cast. An animated movie with an all-star cast is hardly new in 2022. Take a look at any animated movie released in the last five years and you’ll find more recognizable names than you would at a 2022 Lakers game (before they were terrible). DC League of Super-Pets didn’t get it right because it got a bunch of familiar voices. Rather, it got it right because it got the right familiar voices. This starts with SNL-veteran Kate McKinnon, who absolutely nails her role as guinea pig antagonist Lulu, who feels a kinship with Lex Luthor and wants to help him defeat the Justice League. On the other side, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart bring a comforting buddy duo. When their characters Krypto, Superman’s pet dog who traveled from Krypton and formed a crime-fighting duo with him, and Ace, a disgruntled boxer stuck in an animal shelter, bond, it feels like you could close your eyes and see the actors themselves bonding this way.
DC League of Super-Pets establishes Krypto and Superman as heroes in Metropolis. Superman and Lois Lane are also a very much in love couple, much to the chagrin of Krypto. Krypto might be a super-dog, but he still has the familiar dog traits that make so many of us love them. He is loyal and loves Superman unconditionally. He wants it to be the two of them versus the world forever. After Lulu breaks out of the animal shelter that Ace, as well as pig PB (Vanessa Bayer, SNL), old turtle Merton McSnurtle (Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll), and red squirrel Chip (Diego Luna, Narcos: Mexico) have all been confined to together, she captures Superman using kryptonite she got ahold of enhancing her powers. She also tricks Krypto into ingesting the same kryptonite which removes his. This sends him on a journey that not only sees him making friends outside of Superman for the first time, but realizing that change isn’t always necessarily a bad thing.
A movie like this can be difficult to properly review because, frankly, it wasn’t made for me. After all, it is a kids movie. And it certainly isn’t a movie like Zootopia or The Lego Movie, which were marketed as kids movies but dealt with many adult themes. This, despite two curse words they decided to bleep out like a network sitcom, is very firmly a kids movie. Despite that, it seemed to tow the line very well. I shared the movie theater with a mother and two young children, who were both laughing almost the entire way through. But there definitely were enough jokes aimed at the adult crowd to keep you interested the whole way through.
DC League of Super-Pets isn’t going to change your life. It’s a one hour and forty-five minute animated film asking the question; what if a Kryptonian dog snuck on board with Kal-El on his flight from Krypton to Earth? Its plot is familiar enough to the point where you can safely predict each beat with confidence. Despite that, it is well animated, with a star-studded cast eagerly committing to their voice roles. It is entertaining the entire ride with enough laughs to make it an enjoyable viewing experience for the whole family.
DC League of Super-Pets is available for home streaming on HBO Max.