DC League of Super-Pets (Christian Movie Review)
About The Movie
Like Thanos, this movie was inevitable. We’ve reached the point in the superhero craze where studios are scraping the bottom of the comic-book barrel to tell stories about superheroes’ pets. DC League of Super Pets is a mash-up of Pixar’s The Incredibles and Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets, resulting in a more mature, DC Comics-infused version of Paw Patrol. The concept has all the makings of becoming a smash hit. Unfortunately, despite an entertaining enough story and a sufficient dose of charm, the movie never fully takes flight.
The film tells the story of how Superman’s dog, Krypto, must rescue the Justice League (with the aid of some other newly empowered pets) from the clutches of Lulu, Lex Luthor’s diabolical guinea pig. The voice cast ensemble is its own super team of A-list actors and actresses (highlighted by Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart reunited once again). But kids won’t care about that. They need a good story. The movie certainly has all the necessary elements for a fun story, but unlike the league of super pets themselves, they never quite come together as a cohesive unit.
The story is played surprisingly straight (relatively speaking, of course. This is a movie about flying dogs, lightning-shooting squirrels, inflatable pigs, and evil, maniacal guinea pigs). But unlike The Lego Batman Movie (2017), it’s less spoofy, although it does playfully poke some fun at the genre. Instead, it plays more like a traditional DC superhero story, only aimed at kids and told from the perspective of animals. It has an old -school, Saturday-morning cartoon vibe.
The movie is not as funny as you might expect from the goofy premise. The jokes are more “softly chuckle to yourself” one-liners, rather than “laugh out loud” gags. Many of the jokes also aim high. While that means a blissful lack of poop and fart jokes, it also leads to witticisms aimed more at parents than their children. Quips like a world-weary turtle muttering “prenup” after a couple gets engaged or a Jeff Bezos-inspired shot about how all billionaires apparently need to own rocket ships will soar higher than Superman over the heads of younger audiences. Other gags, such as bleeping out profanity (see Content to Consider below) feels like unnecessary pandering to older viewers at the expense of the target audience. The animation is fine as well. There are some enjoyable, standout moments where it shifts to a more stylized comic-book aesthetic, but for the most part, it’s standard fare for a 2022 animated film.
In fact, the “good but not great” evaluation is appropriate for much of the movie. The story is not boring, but there aren’t many truly exciting moments. There is humor, but no memorable gags to relive afterwards. The characters are fun and endearing, but none of them really pop. In the end, DC League of Super Pets feels like a superhero before the training montage. The raw potential is evident, but it’s still working to control its powers and harness them into something great.
Engage The Film
Despite a seemingly silly story concept, DC League of Super Pets has surprising emotional depth. An overarching theme is the true meaning of unconditional love. Ace (voiced by Kevin Hart) tells Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), “You know what they say about dogs. We love unconditionally.” Ace reveals his tragic backstory, where his loving act of saving a child from harm was wrongly perceived by the child’s parents as having attacked her, resulting in him being sent away. It’s a heartfelt and nuanced moment, acknowledging that good deeds are not always repaid in kind. Despite the unfair consequences, Ace declares that he would do it again, because unconditional love means acting in love regardless of the personal cost.
The Bible affirms that the pinnacle example of unconditional love was demonstrated by Jesus on the cross: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16). Throughout the film, Krypton must learn to go from a selfish love for Superman to a selfless love that wishes the best for his own for Superman’s own sake, not just for what Krypton gets in return.
As with almost every super team story, DC League of Super Pets also has a positive message about working together. Rather than a lone wolf (or, in this case, dog) hero, what separates the good guys from the bad guys is that they have friends, while the villains end up alone. The message reflects Biblical wisdom:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Each member of the Super-Pet team has something unique to contribute as well as a struggle or insecurity that needs to be bolstered by the other members. It is a wholesome lesson for parents to talk about with their kids afterwards.