My latest search for an FBI movie to review turned up a fun family film called Show Dogs (2018). I’ve been reviewing TV series and movies for FBI authenticity for nearly six years now. I keep thinking that I’ll surely run out of shows to review, but it hasn’t happened yet. Crime dramas and comedies featuring the FBI continue to be popular.
I dedicate this movie review to my pound puppy, Canyon, a yellow lab mix who recently passed away at the age of 12.
Here’s the movie premise:
A macho Rottweiler K-9 police dog named Max (voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) attempts to rescue Ling-Li a baby giant panda, from being sold by an animal smuggling ring but inadvertently foils an FBI sting operation and is blamed for letting the criminals escape. The Rottweiler and the FBI case agent (Will Arnett) must now work together, posing as a show dog and his trainer at the Canini Invitational dog show in Las Vegas to stop the animal smuggling ring.
When evaluating Show Dogs for FBI policy and procedural accuracy, I couldn’t be overly critical or take my reality check too seriously. After all, it is a movie featuring talking animals.
However, the plotline promotes one of the top cliches: “the FBI doesn’t play well with others.” At the beginning of the story, although they team up together, Max, the NYPD K-9, and FBI agent Frank Nicholas argue and undermine each other while trying to solve the smuggling case. There are lots of jokes about the FBI trying to take over. Haha. Of course, a major international investigation in New York City, probably would have been worked jointly with NYPD officers as members of a task force. This would have provided notification and deconfliction so that both agencies would know law enforcement personnel were conducting operations in close proximity. Max wouldn’t have messed up the undercover operation, allowing the smugglers to escape with that sweet little baby panda.
Another FBI misconception in the movie was that case agent Frank was also playing the role of the undercover agent.
In reality, the case agent in charge of the investigation and the undercover agent are not the same person. Instead, another specially trained and certified agent would be selected to assume that role.
I discuss this in more detail in Chapter 7 of FBI Myths and Misconceptions: A Manual for Armchair Detectives.
Show Dogs is a cute movie. Really.
It’s the ideal movie to flame any spark of future interest my grand kids may have in applying to be a special agent in the FBI.
I would be thrilled if one or all of them followed in their grandma’s footsteps. When they’re older, I plan to make them watch it by bribing them with candy and popcorn. The film is currently streaming on Netflix. You can watch the trailer here.
To learn more about how the FBI uses working dogs, check out the following FBI Retired Case File Review episodes:
By the way, we have a new puppy, Bruno. He’s a Shepherd-mixed, and he’s really cute.