Friday, May 25, 2018

Show Dogs Adoption Movie Review

When police dog Max botches a sting operation, smugglers escape with a baby panda. Max promises that he will successfully retrieve the panda, who is being taken to Las Vegas. Max teams up with a human agent and, in order to get close to the panda, Max has to enter a dog show. He believes that if he wins the show, he will be targeted as the next kidnapping victim, which will bring him into proximity to the panda; however, Max’s love interest wins and is also kidnapped; now he has two victims to rescue.


The Adoption Connection

There are some themes that could be relevant – and troubling – for adoptive families. Kidnapping plays a central theme in the film – a baby panda is separated from its mother. This could be a triggering theme for some viewers. For kids who have been sexually abused, a particular scene could be very problematic; I’ll cover that more in the “Challenges” section of this review.

The entire field of Rottweilers, except Max, learn that they are all related when Max guides them to discovering that they were all adopted from the same town in Kentucky. While the newfound siblings celebrate, another dog joins the scene declaring that she had puppies adopted from that town. The dogs realize that this is their mother, and they have a joyous reunion, and are promptly disqualified from the show because of their unruly celebration. It feels like the adoption connection here is presented in a rather thoughtless way which could be bracing and hurtful for some viewers.

Strong Points

Max and his human handler Frank overcome a rough start and are able to work together to save kidnapping victims. The film does affirm that we are better off when we trust people who see the world differently than we do.  


Felipe, a former dog show champion, has been abandoned. Max finds him in a cage in the pound. When Felipe re-encounters his hold owner, he attacks him. He complains that his owner “stole my dreams, ruined my life, and abandoned me.” The owner’s new dog coldly says that Felipe “needs to be put to sleep.”

Adoption is treated in an offhanded way in a scene discussed in the “Adoption Connection” section.
Show Dogs has come into the news for a disturbing scene. Max had to get a bikini wax in order to give the judges “a good look” at his genitals, and part of being a show dog is having genitals examined by a judge. Max is not comfortable with this. Frank and Felipe to prepare Max for the contest by coaching and practicing with him. Max snaps at Frank’s touch, but Felipe encourages Max to go to his happy place and to “focus on not reacting”. In the actual contest, Max does go into his imagination while the judge is touching his genitals – he dreams of dancing with Frank, and it would not be impossible to interpret the scene as being romanticized. Max is congratulated after the judge finishes touching him. I feel like the scene is profoundly troubling and unwise. It would likely be particularly triggering and confusing for kids who have experienced sexual abuse and is likely a poor choice for any child, because regardless of the filmmakers’ intent, it could have the effect of normalizing grooming behavior.

A creepy character tries to proposition Frank into having Max breed with another dog. Max doesn’t want to, which infuriates the creepy man.


There are so many problems with this one. Earlier this week (I’m writing on 5/25/18), the filmmakers announced that they would be re-cutting the film to remove the concerning scenes, and they’ll be re-releasing it for the weekend of 5/27 with the scenes removed. It may be a safer film to see, but the adoption elements are still insensitive, it’s unlikely that the bikini wax scene will be removed as it didn’t generate the same attention as the more obvious scene, and the underlying theme of kidnapping could also be troubling for some viewers. The film doesn’t seem likely to be entertaining for older kids, and for younger kids it feels like a strong “skip.” I wouldn’t recommend this one. It’s not without some decent moments, but it is sitting at 18% on Rotten Tomatoes right now, which feels about right. There are better movies with less problems. If your kids want to hang out with talking animals, think about subbing in Zootopia this weekend.

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Questions for Discussion
Max hurt his friend’s feelings when she realized that he didn’t think dog shows were important. How could he have told her what he thought without hurting her feelings?
What animal would be your ideal pet?
What would you have told Max if you knew that he didn’t want to be touched by the judge? (Here’s a good chance to affirm to your kids the importance of boundaries… but again, I’d suggest a different film.)

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