So what if "DC League of Super-Pets" is not a revolution in animation. It gets the fun done for family audiences.
And for those of us wondering what to take kinfolk to see at the multiplex without causing trauma for tots and boredom for grown-ups, that's a PG cause for celebration.
Except for "Minions: The Rise of Gru," summer 2022 has been rough on cartoons. "Lightyear" failed to build box-office buzz. "Paws of Fury" is a bust. And let's not forgive "Hotel Transylvania: Transformania" for failing to bring back Adam Sandler to voice Dracula. "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" is an artistic triumph, but the indie gem is hard to find in theaters.
All of this makes "DC League of Super-Pets" nearly the only game in town for filling the void of family entertainment at the movies. It combines Superman (John Krasinski) with a super-lab retriever named Krypto, given vocal and comic muscle by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
The pooch has been with the Man of Steel since his infant days on the planet Krypton. Now they both work in Metropolis as reporters for The Daily Planet using the names of Clark and Bark Kent to disguise their real identities. These are the jokes, folks.
Krypto is the jealous type. So when Clark starts dating reporter Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde), he visits an animal shelter to find a pal for Krypto. That's the cue for Kevin Hart to step in as Ace, a boxer who is desperate to escape the shelter where he's been confined for a crime he didn't commit. Social commentary? Nah. Wholesome is the operative word here, not woke.
The plot kicks in when Superman and Krypto spot the villain they love to hate at the shelter. He's Lex Luthor (Mark Maron) and with the help of a wicked, wondrous guinea pig named Lulu (the ever-wonderous Kate McKinnon), he hatches a plot to kidnap Supie, drain him of his superpowers and bring the Justice League to heel.
Lex never imagined that this special-K would give superpowers to all the shelter pets. Vanessa Bayer nails it as PB, the size-shifting, potbellied pig who teams with Wonder Woman. Natasha Lyonne is Merton, the turtle who speeds up to impress the Flash. And Diego Luna is Chip, a squirrel adopted by Green Lantern when he learns Chip can move objects with his mind.
Even the gloomy Gus that is Bruce Wayne/Batman (that wizard of woe Keanu Reeves) cheers up when he brings the spirited Ace home to live.
The best part of the movie is watching these everyday pets flex their powers as newly minted superheroes.
For the last animated film of summer, first-time director Jared Stern has corralled a dream team of actors to invigorate a script that rarely rises to the next level the way its rival Pixar does when it's really cooking with style and originality.
DC itself showed it had the right stuff for game-changing with "The Lego Movie" and "The Lego Batman Movie," in which Stern also had a hand.
"DC League of Super-Pets" seems to think that adorable is enough. Know what? Sometimes it is. Belly rubs all around.