The Queen’s Corgi review – palace pooch in the doghouse

Jack Whitehall voices a disgraced doggie who ends up joining a canine fight club in this mirthless animated caper

These are indeed the misadventures of one of Her Majesty’s pluckier canine companions. Much of the action thus takes place in and around a functionally rendered Buckingham Palace, complete with photorealistic Liz and Phil in union-jack slippers. And yet this is not a homegrown animation. The credits reveal that most of the key personnel – headed by directors Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen – are Belgian. Is there no one on this side of the North Sea who could digitise a few poop gags? Or would that leave the animators facing charges of treason?

Since Fly Me to the Moon (2008), Stassen’s Brussels-based nWave studio has generated cheap and cheerful product for harassed parents to make do with if the latest Pixar has sold out. The Queen’s Corgi script, by Gnomeo & Juliet scribes Rob Sprackling and Johnny Smith, affords this team a handful of goofy ideas to play with.

Protagonist Rex (voiced by Jack Whitehall) is exiled after disgracing himself while resisting the aggressive advances of President Trump’s female corgi. On Poverty Row, he falls into an underground fight club overseen by a hulking mastiff inevitably called Tyson and lent Ray Winstone’s booming tones. On the latest mirthless rehash of the rules of the now 20-year-old David Fincher film, you realise this is something like if the first Toy Story had referenced The Conversation or Harold and Maude.

Kesteloot and Stassen are too busy scrabbling for content – basically fine, largely indifferent, sometimes misjudged – to fill the gaps between the frenetic set pieces. Any semi-original flourishes are outnumbered by secondhand bits of business: while a passing trans character strikes the eye as progressive, the accompanying “queen” joke dates from roughly 1973. Everything cancels itself out.

The voice cast at least ensure the whole falls at the livelier end of tat. Winstone seems to be having fun in the recording booth, and there’s a certain novelty in hearing Prince Philip talk like Tom Courtenay. If they bother with a sequel, they should stick him in a Range Rover.


Mike McCahill

The GuardianTramp

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