Growing up viewing innumerable airings of Tex Avery’s Speaking of Animals shorts established a permanent place in my heart for talking animal movies. So I went in ready to enjoy the story of Max, a macho police canine voiced by Ludacris and sent undercover at a dog show to expose a ring of panda smugglers. It’s true that technology has come a long way since Tex first added animated mouths to real-life animals, but what good is scientific know-how without the imagination needed to power it? I just hope the careless displays of anal fetishism go sailing over the heads of younger, more impressionable viewers. Director Raja Gosnell (Scooby Doo I & II, Beverly Hills Chihuahua) has killed more talking-dog movies than parvo. Co-star Will Arnett sounds like he spent his time between takes dragging on unfiltered Camels while gargling thumb tacks in order to achieve just the right Dirty Harry tone for barking out his dialogue — and he’s not even providing one of the poochy voices. (2018) — Scott Marks
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