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The Queen's Corgi
Every dog has its day and it's a poor one for The Queen's Corgi, a well-groomed but emotionally flat computer-animated comedy set predominantly inside the glittering corridors of Buckingham Palace. Co-directors Ben Stassen and Vincent Kesteloot take their family-oriented adventure out for walkies in search of broad humour, gently simmering romance and a sprinkling of suspense. Unfortunately, a pedestrian script penned by Rob Sprackling and John R Smith leaves the film chasing its own mangy tail, sketching characters in cursory detail including an extended appearance from a bullying Donald Trump, who refers to his regal host as "her Elizabethness". Some of our finest impressionists and comic talent including Dame Julie Walters, Matt Lucas, Jon Culshaw and Debra Stephenson are squandered in underwritten roles that cry out - unheard - for punchlines. Animation quality is passable - most of the four-legged protagonists are short-haired to minimise movement of their coats - and big set-pieces including a fire and an underwater dream sequence are competently executed but seldom threaten to quicken the pulse. The Duke of Edinburgh (voiced by Sir Tom Courtenay) buys a puppy as a present for the Queen (Walters). Older pets Nelson (Colin McFarlane) and Margaret (Stephenson) tolerate the young whippersnapper, Rex (Jack Whitehall), but fellow corgi Charlie (Matt Lucas) is incandescent with rage that he has been displaced as top dog. At the height of his fame and popularity, Rex clashes with US President Donald Trump (Culshaw) during a state visit with wife Melania (Stephenson) and their dog Mitzi (Sarah Hadland). "I bit the president in the unmentionables!" whimpers a shame-faced Rex to his pack. Charlie seizes the opportunity to lure Rex to his doom in the icy waters of St James's Park Lake and contrives a murder scene in the palace grounds to convince the Queen that her favourite four-legged companion has been killed by foxes. Meanwhile, a frozen, collarless Rex is taken to an animal shelter where the well-to-do corgi faces a mauling from pit bull terrier Tyson (Ray Winstone) and learns valuable lessons about compassion, tolerance and self-sacrifice from Saluki stray Wanda (Sheridan Smith). The Queen's Corgi spends so long painting the lead character as a boorish, egotistical, fame-obsessed snob that when the time comes to redeem Rex, any sympathy we might have has evaporated. Visual gags lack imagination (a bottle of cola intended for the president's consumption is branded Cov-Fefe Classic) and slapstick humour for very young audiences is hit and miss. In the absence of sophisticated laughs, vocal performances alternate between clipped and plummy while Culshaw comfortably lampoons Trump, who is rarely separated from his gold-encrusted mobile phone to take inappropriate photographs of the royal household. "Selfie! Cheese steak!" he bellows. He might be grinning inanely but, sadly, we are not.