Will Arnett, Ludacris, and Natasha Lyonne Share Their Experience in Making ‘Show Dogs’
“Show Dogs” is a “Beverly Hills Cop” for the younger set and their dogs. Max, voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, is a streetwise NYPD K9 Unit Rottweiler. When a sting operation to retrieve a stole Panda baby goes awry, Max is partnered with uptight FBI agent Frank Mosley (Will Arnett) to go undercover at a high end champion dog show in Las Vegas in order to track down the panda thieves.
Max and Mosley don’t get along. Driving into Vegas, Mosley sets the radio to listen to Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas.” Max changes the channel to hip-hop. Mosley changes it back. But Max is persistent and gets the final say. Their love/hate relationship continues throughout threatening the credibility of Mosley’s cover as a dog trainer and Max’s role as a show champion. Especially since street tough Max has nothing but disdain for the pampered dog contestants. He rebels against all dog show prep, making Mosley look consistently stupid. Also Mosley’s efforts to infiltrate do not go well.
Their fortunes improve with first the introduction of former world champion, now down-on-his-luck, Philippe, a Papillon with a French chip on his shoulder. Daisy, a gorgeous Australian Shepherd, becomes Max’s love interest and forces the stubborn Rotty Max to take a second look at his attitude.
On the human end, it takes the FBI’s canine consultant Mattie Smith (Natasha Lyonne in a much different role than the one in “Orange Is The New Black”) to knock some sense into agent Mosley.
In the end, it requires a combined collaboration on the part of dogs and humans as well as a much needed change in attitude to save Ling-Li, the abducted Panda cub.
Having directed “Scooby Doo” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, Raja Gosnell drew from that experience in making his latest dog-talking film, “Show Dogs.” Gosnell recently joined starring actors Will Arnett, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and Natasha Lyonne to speak with Entertainment Voice.
“As a dog owner, all of us have had conversation with our dogs,” explained Gosnell, suggesting that a movie with talking dogs is only a logical extension of a behavior shared by most dog owners.
Working with their canine counterparts was a great joy for Lyonne and Arnett, both being avid dog owners themselves.
Lyonne opened up on the experience. “I am frustrated that I don’t get to work with dogs exclusively. I grew up with a lot of dogs. Dogs get me more than people.”
“There is an old Hollywood adage that you don’t work with dogs or children,” added Arnett. But he went on to add, “Its rare you work on something where your co-stars are so happy to see you. Usually it’s like, ‘How are you? Gonna get coffee.’ But the dogs are like happy and then ten minutes later, it’s like they’ve never seen you before and they’re so happy. It makes you feel so good.”
“With humans, it’s like moody, living in their trailers, eating celery sticks. Not with the doggies,” added Lyonne.
“Show Dogs” is filled with references to cinematic canine legends of the past, an appreciation of doggie stars that have come and gone. In a scene reflective of the famous spaghetti scene in Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”, Max and Daisy chomp on a hot dog until it ends in an accidental kiss. The Tom Hanks film “Turner and Hooch” is referenced often, especially in light of who is Turner and who is Hooch between Mosley and Max. Director Gosnell even gives his former “Beverly Chihuahua” stars Chloe and Pappi a sly cameo.
Said Gosnell, “She (Chloe) says one of my favorite lines in the movie. It’s a cute homage to the stars of the past.”
“Show Dogs” makes no apologies for being a kid specific film. A lot of the humor works at a playground level. There’s a singing trio of pigeons whose reason to exist is provide a bit too much exposition for an adult audience. But the film moves quickly and by the end, manages to get all but the most hard-core, animal-hating audience members on board.
“There’s a lot of movie magic (with talking dogs)” said Bridges, the one actor who should know as he provides the voice of Rottweiler Max. “You always have to ask yourself what’s going on?” added Bridges, referring to the fact that he never sees how it all turns out until the movie is totally finished. Also providing voices were celebrities Stanley Tucci, Alan Cummings and Shaquille O’Neal.
“To make a picture with talking dogs has made me so happy,” effused Lyonne. “It’s like living in someone’s imagination.”
“Show Dogs” opens May 18 in theaters nationwide.