StarDog and TurboCat
Ben Peyton reviews the new animated film aiming to draw in families this season, StarDog and TurboCat
Director: Ben Smith
Starring: Luke Evans, Nick Frost, Gemma Arterton, Ben Bailey Smith and Bill Nighy
It’s 1969 and Buddy (Frost), a loveable pooch (looking uncannily like Dug from Up), takes one giant leap for dogkind as he’s blasted into space by his Technician owner, Mike, as part of a scientific experiment. Things don’t go as planned and Buddy comes down to Earth with a bump and somehow finds himself in 2019 in an American town called Glenfield. This is a place where animals are deemed violent and untrustworthy and subsequently hunted by the sinister Officer Peck, to be captured and never heard of again.
Teaming up with a Bruce Wayne / Batmanesque cat called Felix (Evans), together the not so dynamic duo attempt to find Buddy’s space rocket and reunite him with his master. As they evade Peck’s pursuit, Buddy discovers he’s had his doggy-DNA altered due to Hyperlithium, a powerful crystal used to fuel his capsule, and he now has various superpowers.
What follows is a perfectly harmless, often endearing adventure, but one that doesn’t live up to the high standards set by its superior animated cousins over at Pixar or Sony (StarDog and TurboCat is courtesy of Kaleidoscope Entertainment). Whilst there are some nice comic moments, the script isn’t consistently funny enough with gags becoming repetitive quickly; there’s only so many times Buddy can run into things or fall over before it wears thin. Artistically, there’s also a distinct lack of attention to detail. With The Angry Birds, Toy Story, Coco or Zootropolis there’s always business happening in the background and something new to enjoy on repeat viewings. Not so here. The streets are strangely deserted with the same three or four recurring characters the only humans visible.
The strong voice cast are all excellent, particularly Frost and Evans who bounce off each other with witty charm and the finale manages to tug at the heartstrings even if the ending is a little predictable. Questions are raised by some odd character choices during the flimsy story. If Buddy has powers such as super-speed and super-strength, then why does he use a car to get around and why doesn’t he simply use his muscle to make things go his way? But, hey, maybe I’m analysing this too much.
Colourful and not without charm, there’s plenty for children to enjoy about StarDog and TurboCat, but for the grownups watching, it’s not quite enough to take it to infinity and beyond.
StarDog and TurboCat rockets into UK cinemas from 6 December.
Read more of Ben’s reviews on his site
Make the start of 2020 a busy one with our guide to family days out here