The animated family comedy “DC League of Super-Pets” proceeds from what can be described as a “sure, why not” premise: Superman now has a Labrador retriever named Krypto the Super-Dog, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, who fights crime and has special powers. The movie combines the conventions of a comic book blockbuster with the tropes of a talking-animal flick, making it something like “Justice League” meets “Shrek” — big, loud and full of bombastic action but with an irreverent, jocular tone. The director, Jared Stern, was a writer of “The Lego Batman Movie” (2017). Like that film, this one spends a lot of time gently mocking its superhero source material. When Lulu (voiced by Kate McKinnon), an evil guinea pig and the story’s megalomaniac villain, captures Clark Kent (John Krasinski), she ridicules the shoddy disguise of his alter ego: “A mustache, maybe, but not glasses!”
The movie seems plainly directed at young children who revere superheroes and adore animals. It is at its most successful when it simply lets its leads, Krypto and a fellow canine named Ace (Kevin Hart), put a spin on basic bowwow stuff — as in an early scene involving a city-spanning game of flying fetch. More bewildering are the film’s constant efforts to appease the adults in the audience. What are kids supposed to make of the references to “The Great British Bake Off” in a running gag? And what could they possibly find amusing about an extended, humdrum nod to “The Warriors” (1979)? This brand of arch, inside-baseball riffing is a scourge on modern family films, present in almost every animated movie with an all-star cast. But it’s especially grating delivered by Johnson and Hart, who, despite the vocal talent they have shown in the past, give two of the least inspired voice performances in recent memory.
DC League of Super-Pets
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes. In theaters.