May 24th, 2018 – It looks like “Show Dogs” will not be taking the coveted Best In Show prize, but it will be receiving a re-edit after outcry from parents and sexual exploitation advocacy groups over scenes they deem inappropriate for children. The PG-rated family comedy centers around a gruff NYPD police K9 who must go undercover at a dog show to rescue a stolen animal. Think “Miss Congeniality” but with Sandra Bullock recast with a Rottweiler.
The film opened in theaters on May 18th, and four days later the National Center on Sexual Exploitation released a statement condemning the film for sending a “troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse.”
They go on to detail a problematic storyline where Max, the undercover dog, has to adjust to his new life as a proper competition show dog. This includes multiple scenes where Max preps himself for the moment when the judges will examine his private parts.
His owner, Frank, (played by Will Arnett) tries to get Max ready for the inspection by touching him, but the crime-fighting dog is having no part of it. Enter Philippe – the three-time world champion show dog who advises Max to go to his “zen place” until that portion of the competition is over.
“Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children—telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort,” NCOSE wrote in their statement. “Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”
Global Road Entertainment, which co-produced the movie alongside Riverstone Pictures, initially defended the scenes that anchor much of the third act saying that examinations are standard in dog shows. They did apologize, at the time, to parents who felt the scene “sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film.”
However, following continued complaints from movie-going parents online, the studio made another public statement and decided to cut the problematic scenes.
“The company takes these matters very seriously and remains committed to providing quality entertainment for the intended audiences based on the film’s rating. We apologize to anybody who feels the original version of ‘Show Dogs’ sent an inappropriate message.”
Please explain to me how this scene was deemed suitable for a family movie, or any movie, for that matter. Is this supposed to be funny? Someone going to their “zen place” while being touched against their will is called DISSOCIATION. #ShowDogs
From Terina Maldonado: pic.twitter.com/E3rRff59Gu
SHOW DOGS is really bad. The scenes in question are insane. I have no idea how a lot of people could sign off of it. It explicitly uses abuse language and tactics for the scenes. Not even hiding it. And it’s the climax of the movie set to a slow version of “Sexy and I know it”
— Nickrob, Patron Saint of Keeping it Real Online. (@Nickrob) May 24, 2018
PSA DO NOT GO TO OR SUPPORT THE MOVIE “Show Dogs”. ***IT NORMALIZES SEXUAL ABUSE*** spread the word, I know many parents who would have no idea because it’s portrayed as kid-friendly & rated PG. This is just not okay. pic.twitter.com/lFbcitd9wg
Cinema Blend believes another motivating factor for the studio was, unsurprisingly, money. Movie theater chains AMC and Regal were being pressured to pull the movie, and The Cineplex in Australia had already axed the film from all of its locations.
The neutered version of “Show Dogs” will hit theaters this weekend.
Do you think the studio made the right call in re-cutting the “zen place” inspection scenes? Let us know your thoughts on the movie’s problematic scenes and the reaction of concerned movie-goers.