Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
Typically at movie press conferences, entertainment journalists from different outlets, gather in a posh hotel conference room to ask the film’s superstar talent thoughtful questions about the making of their latest cinematic pride and joy. Questions like, “What was your greatest challenge,” “How did this cast come together,” and “What’s this film’s greatest takeaway,” are lobbed at the talent, who then give their perfectly concise answers as scripted in their talking points memo.
But not at director Raja Gosnell’s SHOW DOGS.
Oh no. For a mutt-sterpiece such as this four-legged, family friendly film, we should’ve expect the unexpected. Instead of the mundane, we were treated to masterful irreverence only inquisitive minds of a certain age can bring. The children of reporters were handed the mic to ask stars Will Arnett (THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE), Natasha Lyonne (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK) and Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias (THE BOOK OF LIFE) all their burning, no-holes-barred questions. And, needless to say, it was magnificent.
Things began on a solid insightful note.
Which dog slobbered the most?
Arnett: Probably Q/ Max. Mike, his handler, would have a bunch of rags and would constantly be wiping his mouth.
Lyonne: One of the world’s greatest slobberers…Max.
The children were not told by the talent’s publicists that personal questions were prohibited, so ask away they did.
Do you have any dogs?
Iglesias: Two chihuahuas
Lyonne: I have a maltipoo named Root Beer.
Arnett: I have a black lab named Bella.
Naturally, favoritism would play a part in the questioning.
Which dog is the cutest?
Arnett: Which dog do you think is the cutest?
[Child points to dog on the left side of the poster]
Lyonne: Oh. You like Alan Cumming?
Who is Alan Cumming? No. That dog.
Lyonne: Oh! That’s Jordan Sparks. That was my dog [in the movie].
I wanna cuddle him!
Lyonne: Such a great cuddler. She would jump right in your arms.
Arnett: She didn’t even have to run and jump. She could leap up into your arms. It was incredible.
The exchanges between the talent and kids only got better from there.
What’s it like talking to dogs?
Arnett: It makes you question everything, knowing that you’re in a conversation with the dog. You think, “What’s happening?” It’s great. There’s a lot of movie magic here. We would do scenes with the dogs and we don’t know that they’re talking to each other. We just think they are barking. I hear it as a bark, but what Raja and the filmmakers do, later on, is that they work it so that the dog is talking. People like Gabriel come in and voice the dogs you end up seeing in the movie. As you’re an actor, it is a little weird.
Iglesias: As a dog owner, I’m sure we’ve all had these conversations with them.
Lyonne: But it’s also your dream that your dogs could perfectly understand you – that you could have full conversations.
However, the most innocently delivered/ unwittingly shaded questions, were from two youngsters. The first savagely asked,
Are there any famous people in this movie?
Arnett: We couldn’t get any.
Lyonne: We happened to know Raja, so we went to his house.
Arnett: Is that your mom there? Have her pull up IMDB real quick. Because the tears [breaks down in laughter] are coming too quick.
Lyonne: Kids speak the truth, Will. It’s important that we listen.
Arnett: You don’t know this, but you’ve helped me out so much. When you’re older you’re understand.
And the second delivered a full circle moment, when she asked Arnett,
How come you look different than on the movie poster?
Lyonne: Will, this is my favorite thing I have ever done in my entire life. You guys are perfect. Is this a roast?!
Arnett: I feel like this is set up by my therapist. Anyone else? I feel like it can’t get worse, but let’s give it a try!
Lyonne: Don’t think about the question. Just go ahead and ask it.
An adult journalist in the press corps stuck the landing, ending the press conference, inquiring,
How is this Q&A?
Lyonne: The Q&A is a ten.
Arnett: This is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me. I mean that in the best way. It has re-aligned everything.
SHOW DOGS opens on May 18.