The Movie Guru: “DC League of Super-Pets” fun for comic book fans
Are you a DC fan?
Your answer is going to make a big difference in how you feel about “DC League of Super-Pets,” which opens in theaters this weekend. If you said yes, then you’ll likely be charmed by a fun, light-hearted film with a surprising amount of attention to the DC comics canon. It has the same feel as 2017’s ‘Lego: Batman’, although it’s softer in every way, and there’s a good mix of in-jokes, references and easter eggs for fans. .
The film begins with a slightly altered version of Superman’s origin story, where a puppy is sent with him to Earth after Krypton’s destruction. This pup grows up to be Krypto, Superman’s best friend and equally super-powerful sidekick, a situation that changes when a very angry and very powerful gerbil puts the Justice League in danger. In order to save them, Krypto will have to do something he’s never done before: befriend other animals.
It’s just a small part of the larger plot, which also involves Orange Kryptonite, Lex Luthor, and Krypto having to deal with sharing Superman with Lois Lane. It’s actually pretty dense for something that appears so simply, and even though I’ve been reading comics for years, I had to Google at least a few of the references when I got home. The whole movie would fit nicely into some of the lighter DC canon releases, more so than some of the live-action adaptations.
Part of the reason for that, however, is that he’s playing things a little too safe. It’s a cute movie, and there are some funny moments, but it’s far from the crazy, beautifully-accurate parody/celebration that ‘Lego: Batman’ was. It’s not exactly a fair comparison – “Super-Pets” co-writers Jared Stern and John Wittington were just two of the original film’s five writers – but it’s just a little disappointing. Especially during the moments when it comes close to capturing the spirit of the other film.
Still, there’s a lot here for DC fans to love. Keanu Reeves is a treat as Batman, and it was fun to see Jessica Cruz take on the role of Green Lantern in a big-screen movie. Also, I had no idea Wonder Woman needed a porcine sidekick, but I was clearly wrong.
If you’re not a DC fan, then the movie is “The Secret Life of Pets” with new labels stuck on it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – “Farts” was a perfectly fine movie – but it’s definitely one of those animated movies where adults will want to find something else to do. There’s even a good message in it, easy to understand even if you don’t know anything about superheroes.
If you do, however, it’ll be a much more entertaining movie.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning film critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or email her at [email protected].