I think we have the blockbuster surprise of the summer. When the DC League of Super Pets ended, I turned to the critics around me and exclaimed, “That was way better than I thought it would be!” My colleagues enthusiastically agreed, and the shower of praise began to unfold. It’s not to say Super-Pets is on the level of Toy Story or Wally, but it finds an avenue to explore that many throughout the years don’t understand; nostalgia.
There’s a disease growing in Hollywood. One that isn’t immediately noticeable once transmitted, but the effects linger at a later stage past diagnosis. It’s called Forceanitus. Love it, hate it, or indifferent about it, The Force Awakens is the pinnacle of lazy retreads that have plagued Hollywood for a while. The movie was a reminder of the things everyone loves about the original Star Wars trilogy and hates about the prequels. It’s anti-matter toward George Lucas’ Prequel matter. Many (including myself) celebrated J.J. Abrams’s callback to the good old days, not caring if originality was tossed in the trash compactor.
The memory vacation can only last so long until things begin to go sour. When the producers at Disney thought Rian Johnson could be Star Wars’ auteur, many would love, things didn’t go the way a fairy tale would. Like a drug addict, Disney retreaded towards Abram’s nostalgia well with nothing to drink but the poison they initially consumed, leading to a terrible studio hangover.
Having spent thirty years living with fantastical characters, one can only make a movie that reminds us that Superman is a fun guy instead of a brooding psychopath to hold interest. When the inevitable light and fun reboot of Krypton’s most powerful son returns, it will most likely have come down with a case of Forceanitus like Halloween did. At a certain point, the commerciality of blockbuster films feels like one big stupid joke. You can make a self-aware Marvel comedy, a super serious DC Superman, but the audience is smart enough to catch up on the joke, aware a studio doesn’t know where to go since they’ve explored almost every avenue over the years.
With Warner Bros placed in a corner for its faults, comedy’s time is ready to shine. Following The Lego Batman Movie’s footsteps, the DC League of Super-Pets reminds us why we love the idles from childhood while teaching us something as adults something at the same time. Who doesn’t love pets? If you don’t, then your name must be Micahel Vick. Superman’s (John Krasinski) dog Krypto (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is Supe’s best friend in the world. By stopping criminals together, the two are best buds to the end of time. With everything going well, Louis Lane’s relationship with Supe triggers Krypto’s animalistic territorialism.
Things don’t help Krypto’s insecurity when Superman visits a local dog shop in Metropolis. While waiting for Clark to return, Krypto meets Ace (Kevin Heart), who is not a bad, but misunderstood dog. A dod that’s mad at a world which left him to fend for himself. Ace’s adoption doesn’t last long when Lex Luther’s missing hairless hamster Lulu (Kate McKinnon), gains possession of a unique orange kryptonite that gives all the animals in the local pet shop superpowers. With all the furries on the loose, it’s up to Krypto and his group of super-pets to set things right before Lulu seizes world domination.
The chemistry between pets plays the perfect parody for the DC property. With some of the minds behind Lego Batman on board in the writing department, Super-Pets takes some jabs at our classic heroes, but in a loving spirit. None of the quips feel snide or pandering, just sweet. Krypto using a pair of glasses as a classic disguise is a great example. Another instance is the pets names in general. If Batman owned a dog, it should be named The Bark Knight.
Rarely does the humor not land primarily thanks to its heartfelt script that comes across thematically as a diet Toy Story. There’s a clear theme of abandonment that pets can share with toys (if they were alive). As people grow older, have children, and move to new homes, pets can be left behind. The animal can’t understand why they’re abandoned, causing them to become hateful or lethargic in depression. A pet needs an owner as much as an owner need a pet. What better way to prove that than have some fluffy superheroes save the world?
The pet is a window to an owner’s soul. Each pet represents an element of a classic DC character, but in a way that’s more substantive than sharing the same cape or power. Superman’s idealism is prevalent in Krypto’s joy for life. Naturally, Luther’s hamster would have an appetite for power over kindness. For being puny, Lulu projects her insecurity through violence. How the other pets fit into place would spoil the movie, although the trailers don’t have a problem doing that, but what else is new? Whether you’re bringing your family or want to hang with your other adult friends, the DC League of Super-Pets is a joyous nostalgia trip handled with care anyone can enjoy.