When I left the critic screening for League of Superpets, I was asked by my contact at the distributor company what I thought of the film. I was a little taken back by the question. I didn’t have a substantive option on it. It was a wacky movie for babies, what option could I have on it? I ended up telling her it was “cute”, the only word I could really think of for it.
I don’t hate animation. I’m not a snob about live-action or generally disregarding toward animation in general. I’m a huge fan of classic Disney, classic Looney Tunes, the collected works of directors like Miyazaki, Hosoda, Blooth, and more. I grew up on anime, Pixar, The Simpsons, Spongebob, and Avatar: The Last Airbender like most in my generation. At the same time though, I find the internet tends to overvalue animation. The millennial and zoomer generations never had a parting moment with the art they loved as a kid. Unlike previous generations who “put the ways of childhood behind” them, ours never bothered. We kept our childish nostalgia alive well through our 30s because my generation never grew up to begin with.
It wasn’t that long ago that I remember terminally online critics like Doug Walker bragging about how modern animation was running circles around the rest of the film industry with better stories and greater creativity, which is true if your frame of reference is entirely Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Disney and whatever blockbuster comes out at your local Redbox. The world is filled with great widely accessible art if you search for it. Modern Hollywood doesn’t make “adult” films anymore though with plots thick enough that you can’t stick a pencil through them. By those standards, golden age Pixar would be an improvement over the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean 4 or X-Men Origins.
Thus my apathy towards League of Superpets, a midtier animated film with huge voice actors that in a previous generation mostly been a cut-rate embarrassment at best alongside films like Over the Hedge or Shark Tale, the kind of thing you only think about a decade later when you’re searching through used DVD boxes. Because it’s technically a DC film though, I can imagine a handful more adults will go see this though just because Batman is in it for like 60 seconds. There is probably going to be someone out there putting out over-the-top think pieces about “wokeness” in Superpets…
For what it’s worth, the story follows the reaction ship between Superman and Krypto the Super Dog, a superpowered K-9 that has been Clark Kent’s best friend since infancy. As an adult, Krypto is having a confidence crisis because his best friend wants to get married and he’s afraid he’s being abandoned by his best friend. When Superman and the Justice League are kidnapped by a superpowered Guinea Pig, Krypto must team up with four rescue animals who were accidentally given superpowers by a piece of kryptonite.
The movie starts with a nice commercial for animal adoption services which was honestly the most wholesome aspect of the experience. The main animal characters are all considered “unadoptable” for various reasons so if this film serves to bring any attention to animals struggling to find forever homes then I am happy for it. Beyond that though, everything is superfluous. The humor is grade-school humor. The performances are melodramatic and wacky. Most of the actual “adult jokes” are just jokes about Batman being DARK and Superman being lame, which don’t amount to much. The moral of learning to put others first and trust friends is a good lesson for a kiddie movie though.
As far as kid’s content goes, there are a few bizarre inclusions like one character saying s*** and f***, references to out-of-wedlock “staying over” and a smattering of LGBTQ+ references in the background. So be aware of that if those things bother you (They also turned Green Lantern into a LatinX Tumblrina with a shaved head for some reason, so do with that what you will).
League of Superpets is not a movie to be watched. It is a mindless inoffensive blob designed specifically so that moms can take their screaming bratty children to a movie for two hours so they can take a nap. It’s hardly meant to be watched, let alone critiqued. Its ideas and story have been done better a thousand times in shorts like Pixar’s Feast. All this film has to offer is kiddie humor and simple morals, which might be fine if you’re 10 years old. Even then though, these ideas have been done better elsewhere. I would hope any self-respecting adults have a better sense of themselves and just go see Top Gun Maverick again if they’re really itching to see a movie this weekend. Godspeed to all the parents being dragged to see this…