Pets rule, humans drool in energized animated superhero parody 'DC League of Super-Pets'

  • Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), center, leads a merry band of animal vigilantes to save the Justice League of America in "DC League of Super-Pets," with turtle Merton (Natasha Lyonne), piggy PB (Vanessa Bayer), fidgety squirrel Chip (Diego Luna) and sassy hound Ace (Kevin Hart).

    Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), center, leads a merry band of animal vigilantes to save the Justice League of America in "DC League of Super-Pets," with turtle Merton (Natasha Lyonne), piggy PB (Vanessa Bayer), fidgety squirrel Chip (Diego Luna) and sassy hound Ace (Kevin Hart). Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

 
 
Updated 7/29/2022 11:47 AM

"DC League of Super-Pets" - ★ ★ ★ ½

In the energized animated comedy "DC League of Super-Pets," Superman's canine buddy Krypto pulls off the biggest rescue of his 67-year career as the DC Comics Super-Dog: He saves the DC extended movie universe from its continuing spiral into grim seriousness ("The Batman"), plodding dullness (any movie with Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel) and gleeful nihilism ("The Suicide Squad").

 

This dog puts the fun back into the DC series, along with some unexpected warm fuzzies and cautionary themes about the awful power of hurtful words, and how true love is never possessive, but something to be shared.

Pay particular attention to the seemingly innocuous details, as well as the tails, in "DC League of Super-Pets." They return later in the story, sometimes for more than just comic effect, even the throwaway observation that Krypto's super poop smells like sandlewood.

Krypto (voiced by a highly personable Dwayne Johnson) enjoys his idyllic relationship with his lifelong best friend Clark Kent (voiced by John Krasinski), aka Superman, or as Krypto calls him, "Supes."

Now in his 67th year since first appearing in a DC comic book, Super-Dog Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) guards over Metropolis in the animated comedy "DC League of Super-Pets."
Now in his 67th year since first appearing in a DC comic book, Super-Dog Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) guards over Metropolis in the animated comedy "DC League of Super-Pets." - Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
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His perfect world appears to be jeopardized by the arrival of reporter Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde), who begins to replace Krypto as Supes' highest priority for time and attention.

The green monster begins to dog the poor canine, and it's not kryptonite.

Villainous Lex Luthor (Marc Maron) thinks he has a better way to destroy Superman -- orange kryptonite that will make ordinary humans more super than the Man of Steel.

But he discovers this doesn't work on humans, only animals, just like the ones in a Metropolis pet store, including sassy hound Ace (Kevin Hart), plump piggy PB (Vanessa Bayer), fidgety squirrel Chip (Diego Luna), nearly blind turtle Merton (Natasha Lyonne), and a hairless guinea pig named Lulu (Kate McKinnon).

When orange kryptonite gives them each super powers, the ambitious Lulu -- a former experimental guinea pig for Lex Luthor -- devotes herself to pleasing her master by trying to destroy the entire Justice League of America.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Just when Supes needs his best friend most, Super-Dog loses his powers, leaving the ragtag pet shop escapees to save the day in a colorfully explosive, visually caffeinated motion picture with a smart and smarting screenplay that could have been co-written by acerbic stand-up comics like Bill Burr or Bill Maher.

A sassy street hound named Ace (voiced by Kevin Hart), center, comes to a stop with squirrel Chip (Diego Luna), plump piggy PB (Vanessa Bayer), Krypto (Dwayne Johnson) and nearly blind turtle Merton (Natasha Lyonne) in the animated comedy "DC League of Super-Pets."
A sassy street hound named Ace (voiced by Kevin Hart), center, comes to a stop with squirrel Chip (Diego Luna), plump piggy PB (Vanessa Bayer), Krypto (Dwayne Johnson) and nearly blind turtle Merton (Natasha Lyonne) in the animated comedy "DC League of Super-Pets." - Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

It's actually from Jared Stern and John Whittington, who gave us the brilliantly subversive animated comedy "The Lego Batman Movie."

Just as they did in that 2017 release, Stern (who also directs here) and Whittington let no movie cliché escape ridicule, no ridiculous comic book contrivance go unnoticed. (Unlike the live-action "Wonder Woman" adventures, this animated comedy actually shows us Diana's Invisible Jet, which one character complains isn't really invisible, "It's more transparent.")

Blessed with an excellent voice cast -- especially McKinnon's evil rodent, Hart's street-wise hound and Keanu Reeves as a hilariously self-possessed Batman -- "DC League of Super-Pets" runs the gamut from low comedy (Lulu worries about pimples) to high ("Wealthy Person Actually Goes to Jail" is a news headline) with an impressive, but not perfect, degree of success.

The movie has been adapted from "The Legion of Super-Pets," first appearing in Adventure Comics No. 293 in 1962. It featured Krypto, Streaky the Super-Cat, Beppo the Super-Monkey and Comet the Super-Horse.

For sheer animal magnetism, these new movie characters can't be beat.

• • •

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Keanu Reeves, Kate McKinnon, Kevin Hart, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne

Directed by: Jared Stern

Other: A Warner Bros. release in theaters. Rated PG. 101 minutes

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