Review by Daniel Blackaby July 29, 2022
DC League of Super-Pets (Christian Movie Review)
Verdict: Despite an entertaining story and a wholesome message, the movie never fully takes flight, lacking enough fun and humor to captivate young viewers, and containing just enough questionable content to give parents cause for concern.
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.
On the Surface
Profanity: No actual swearing is heard, but there are many alternatives. “Heck” is used multiple times, including a villain saying, “I’ll see you in heck.” There is also a recurrent gag of a character having apparently strong profanity bleeped out (“Where the BLEEP am I?” etc.). A character says “Cheese and Crackers” as a stand in for J—C—. There are also various rude words, including “stupid,” “losers,” “crap,” and referring to a woman as a “wench.”
Violence: A villain tells the heroes she will “tear them limb by limb.”
Sexuality: There is at least one overtly same-sex couple. A pet refers to his owner as having recently gotten a fiancée, and the camera then shows two female characters. There is also a scene where two male characters are depicted in a potentially romantic way, although the nature of their relationship is not stated. It is explained that Lois Lane and Superman, who are dating, share a bed when she comes over to his apartment.
Other: One character idolizes Wonder Woman to the point of worship (Wonder Woman is a demi-god, after all). She makes comments such as “thank the goddess,” or “praise be her name.”
Beneath The Surface
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.
by Nathan Schadler
I wish I would have read this article before taking my two 8 year olds to go see it. I knew I wouldn’t like the movie to begin with, but wasn’t expecting the same sex kiss, the idea that Lois spends the night and the language aspect. Those sexual aspect were not mentioned by my kids, but when the profanity was bleeped the 3rd time, one of my sons asked what was that noise and my wife and I had to explain to him during the movie. I do not want to have to explain adult topics to my kids during a movie; I just want them to watch and enjoy. Also I was listening and never heard anyone in the theater laugh out loud. My wife chuckled a bit, but that was about it.
This movie isn’t fit for adults much less children, unless you wish to promote homosexuality, profanity, sex outside marriage as OK, and idolatry.
Many instances of pets simulating cursing as “bleeps” are used in place of words, a scene of two lesbians kissing, superman’s dog explaining that he always sleeps on superman’s bed except when the girl friend spends the night. He is then put out of the bedroom where superman and his girl friend can share the bed, and wonder woman being called a goddess and being worshiped. The “Hall of Justice” is illustrated to look like a large church on the outside, even as far as having stained glass with a halo around superman’s head the same way it is depicted around Jesus Christs and Saints on the glass of large catholic churches.