Right off the bat, you might be asking yourself who is this movie for? Is it like the Krypto the Superdog cartoons and geared towards younger kids? Would it be more like The Lego Batman Movie and be an all ages comedy? I think this question is answered in the very first scene with the destruction of Krypton. This movie is for fans of the Donnerverse Superman of all ages, and especially dog lovers.
The Lego Batman Movie referenced many different eras of Batman. It really played into the versions and iterations we’ve had of the character over the decades. Super-Pets instead relies heavily on the Donnerverse interpretation of Superman using the public’s general familiarity to land some of its jokes. They get all the hits including holographic dad, kneel before, and the John Williams Superman Theme. We even get the Krypton theme which is one of my favorite cues from that score. For Batman and Wonder Woman fans we also get the Elfman Batman ’89 theme and the Gimbel/Fox Wonder Woman ’75 theme.
Sticking with these iconic versions lets the movie skip over unnecessary exposition. We can get right into the Krypto & Clark relationship and from there the rest of the film.
The main plot starts with Superman, Krypto, and the Justice League stopping Lex’s plan to obtain orange Kryptonite and with it super powers of his own. We are introduced Lex’s former guinea pig Lulu who has her own evil plan. She has discovered that the orange Kryptonite only grants powers to pets! With her newfound telekinesis she captures Superman and assembles her own team of super powered guinea pigs to take out the Justice League. This leaves Krypto and a group of shelter pets with the task of saving the day.
Throughout most of the movie Krypto doesn’t have his powers—playing a little fast and loose with green Kryptonite. I find this is done too often in Superman stories, but it really worked for me here. Krypto’s arc of the movie is all about learning to rely on others and make friends. His growth allows him to trust the other Super-Pets and not only save Superman and the Justice League, but also accept Lois as Superman’s fiancé. It’s a simple lesson, but told with a lot of heart. The movie doesn’t let you forget that a dog is man’s best friend. There aren’t many surprises here for folks that have seen the trailers.
To some extent when you go to see a movie with Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson you know what to expect. They’ve both got their shtick and their characters here don’t stray to far from those expectations. This reviewer enjoyed Johnson’s naïve do-gooder Krypto, but Hart’s sarcastic Ace didn’t quite land. Ace also ends up with all of the more juvenile jokes that kept me from completely loving it. These two are the driving force throughout to the detriment of some of the other characters. It sounded like Kate McKinnon was having a blast playing the villainous guinea pig Lulu, but she is the only other character to get something to work with. Everyone else was relegated to almost cameo roles, just dropping in recurring jokes throughout. I hope with the Super-Pets Cinematic Universe we’ve been promised we can get a little bit more from everyone.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie and I’d definitely watch it again. Kevin Hart’s jokes might not be to my taste, but there is enough love for the source material and genuine care taken that the whole package is worthwhile. Their version of “adult jokes in a kids movie” are Superman references that felt aimed directly at me. Oh, and as with every superhero movie these days we are treated to both a mid *and* post credits scene on this one so stick around to the end. Especially if you are a fan of Dwayne Johnson.