DC League of Super-Pets brings light entertainment for kids and adults to enjoy on the big screen

DC League of Super-Pets. Courtesy of Warner Bros.
DC League of Super-Pets. Courtesy of Warner Bros. /

For those looking for a complex and action-packed superhero film, DC League of Super-Pets will likely do nothing for you. However, those looking for a distraction in these trying times may enjoy DC’s latest animated movie. DC League of Super-Pets tells the story of how Krypto the Superdog (voiced byDwayne Johnson) rescued Superman (John Krasinski) and the rest of the Justice League from the evil clutches of Lulu the Guinea Pig (Kate McKinnon) by teaming up with a group of pets who have gotten powers from an Orange Kryptonite.

Batman (Keanu Reeves), Wonder Woman (Jameela Jamil), The Flash (John Early), Aquaman (Jemaine Clement), Cyborg (Daveed Diggs), and Green Lantern (Dascha Polanco) cannot defeat the army of guinea pigs Lulu assembled. So it’s up to Krypto and his SuperPets, comprised of Ace (Kevin Hart), PB (Vanessa Bayer), Merton (Natasha Lyonne), and Chip (Diego Luna), to overcome their fears and save the Justice League before Lulu and Lex Luthor (Marc Maron), defeat them and destroy the world.

Spoiler alert! Spoilers are ahead for DC League of Super-Pets

DC League of Super-Pets features a terrific cast

DC League of Super-Pets boasts one of the most impressive casts ever assembled for an animated film in recent memory. The amount of talent packed in one movie was enough for me to pique my curiosity, even if I had no interest in the film’s story at hand. Thankfully, everyone involved in the movie does a terrific job with their respective characters, even if some arcs are underused and underdeveloped.

It’s no secret that, while they are in the movie, the Justice League take a backseat and act as secondary characters since the film isn’t about them. But their screen time is so limited that it almost feels like they wasted most of the enormous talent they hired for the Justice League. Keanu Reeves has the most screen time as Batman, and he’s the perfect casting choice to play a self-referential Caped Crusader, but anyone else doesn’t have much to say (or do) during the film’s pivotal action sequences.

Still, the actors do their best with the material they’re given, which in turn causes them to bring up some funny jokes involving the characters. Wonder Woman’s invisible jet becomes a running gag for the pets, or how Cyborg is easily defeated by having his battery removed by the Guinea Pig army are some of the jokes featured in the movie. They’re lots of fun and add a good amount of comedy to the movie, and it’s even better when the actors themselves are having fun in their roles.

As for the pets themselves, Natasha Lyonne gets the funniest lines of the movie as Merton McSnurtle, but I was surprised at how emotional the backstory got for Ace and Krypto. Johnson & Hart have terrific chemistry together. Even if their arcs grow predictably, the amount of emotional levity they pull for both characters is second-to-none. Ace’s backstory is particularly heart-wrenching through a flashback scene of his past life with a human owner. I didn’t expect the movie to delve this deep into dramatic territory. Still, writer/director Jared Stern and co-writer John Whittington handle the sequence with so much care and dramatic pull that it’s hard not to bubble up at that moment.

These vocal performances save the movie from being a bore, as the plot itself is exceptionally recycled. It follows the same “human owner realizes that a dog is man’s best friend after all” arc we see so many times in animated films. A human owner (in this case, Superman) “replaces” his pet with a significant other (Lois Lane, voiced by Olivia Wilde) until something terrible happens, which requires his pet to save him from dire straits. By the movie’s end, he’ll realize how vital his pet was all along and apologizes for neglecting him, solidifying his bond with the animal, who ultimately befriends Lois Lane because he learns that Superman loves her as equally as he does Krypto.

This is stuff we’ve all seen before, especially if you’ve seen films like The Secret Life of Pets. It borrows the same plot from that movie but replaces Duke with Lois Lane, who becomes Superman’s new center of attention, which Krypto dislikes. Then we have the inevitable meet-up with Ace. And if you’ve seen The Secret Life of Pets, you probably know that the duo hate each other early on but learn to accept themselves once they learn more about one another. It’s all been done before, and DC League of Super-Pets does nothing to freshen up its plot structure and character arcs.

DC League of Super-Pets - movies
DC League of Super-Pets. Courtesy of Warner Bros. /

Fun action scenes in DC League of Super-Pets keep the movie going

But the movie more than makes up for its uninspired plot through a series of dazzling action sequences that becomes the perfect showcase for terrific physical comedy. One sequence, in particular, involving a cat whose whiskers become actual missiles, is the comedic highlight of the movie. The comedic timing between the characters and the antagonist is great, but it’s even better when the antagonist is a cute little innocent-looking kitten who likes to blow things up and haunt the Super-Pets. It made me laugh harder than any joke featured in Thor: Love and Thunder, making it a better movie than Taika Waititi’s entry in Phase Four of the MCU.

The main antagonist, Lulu, is fine but isn’t as developed as the other Super-Pets, with which the movie spends the most time. McKinnon adds her personality to the Guinea Pig and gives an excellent vocal performance. But it’s during the film’s final act, where she absorbs shards of Orange Kryptonite into her brain and transforms into a Kaiju-like creature, that McKinnon’s performance grows to more incredible heights, and the action becomes more kinetic and exhilarating. The film’s post-credit scene involving her and Mercy Graves (Maya Erskine) sets the stage for a sequel. One hopes her character gets more screentime and a more elaborate plan should the second installment happen at some point.

While DC League of Super-Pets doesn’t have the most inspired plot, its vocal performances and action sequences elevate the movie to watchable territory. It’s certainly not the worst DC movie ever made and not the best one either, but it lands right in the middle and acts as a good enough distraction to whatever is happening in the world today. Small kids will be enthralled by the impeccable action sequences highlighting the Super-Pets’ powers. At the same time, adults may enjoy the film’s raunchier jokes (most of them involving Lyonne’s Merton) but won’t be impressed at the predictability of its plot. Still, there are far worse movies to choose from in theaters at the moment, and DC League of Super-Pets brings light entertainment for kids and adults to enjoy on the big screen, the way superhero movies are meant to be experienced.

DC League of Super-Pets is now playing in theaters.