The new family comedy “Show Dogs” has a Rottweiler police dog Max (voiced by Ludacris) and his human partner Frank (Will Arnet) who go undercover at a prestigious dog show to stop an animal smuggling activity (somehow Natasha Lyonne, Stanley Tucci and Alan Cummings are in it as well). The film, which opened this past weekend, hasn’t received terribly good reviews, but it has garnered some attention from some parent groups for a subplot with some pretty dangerous undertones. Family film critic Terina Maldonado explains the plot point in question:
“What could have been solely a fun movie for kids that would get my highest recommendation is damaged by a dark and disturbing message hidden, not so subtly between the fluffy dogs and glamorous parties of the show dog lifestyle. As part of any dog show, contestants are judged on their abilities and physical attributes. One part, in particular, is the inspection of the dog’s private parts.”
Frank and a former champion show dog attempt to get Max accustomed to this process, which he is not happy about. This is where it takes a dangerous turn in its message to children:
“Since the inspection of the private parts will happen in the finals, Frank touches Max’s private parts to get him use to it. Of course, Max doesn’t like it and snaps at Frank for him to stop. Max is then told by the former champion, who has been through the process before, that he needs to go to his “zen place” while it happens so he can get through it. More attempts are made by Frank to touch Max’s private parts, but Max is still having trouble letting it happen and keeps snapping at him.The day of the finals come and if Max doesn’t let his private parts be touched, he may lose the competition and any hope of finding the kidnapped panda. It all rests on his ability to let someone touch his private parts. The judge’s hands slowly reach behind Max and he goes to his “zen place”. He’s flying through the sky, dancing with his partner, there are fireworks and flowers-everything is great-all while someone is touching his private parts.”
The message here, in case you’ve missed it, is that while someone may at first be reluctant to have a stranger touch their genitalia, bad things will happen if they don’t allow it, plus they eventually will not only get used to it, but even enjoy it. Ultra-conservative family group Focus on the Family, as well family/parent sites like Macaroni Kid and For Every Mom have blasted the film for encouraging what is considered in the world of pedophilia as “grooming,” an act in which an emotional connection is established with a child to lower their inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse.
While this type of joke may have worked in an R rated movie, its placement in a family friendly film seems irresponsible at best. While the plot pertains to a dog (albeit an anthropometric dog), concerns that it encourages children to enable pedophilic behavior seem valid.