The film takes place in a city dog pound as the animals (who are mainly dogs, but there's also a Siamese cat and a misplaced penguin there, too!) await their fate of being put down, but there is a catch: the creatures are portrayed by human actors (for instance, a bald guy in a poncho plays a Mexican Hairless; the Siamese cat is an Asian; the penguin, or "fowl" as the others call him, wears a tuxedo; the Boxer is a boxer, The Greyhound is dressed like a marathon runner, and so forth). As they await their impending deaths, they reminisce about life, attempt to escape/get adopted, or act out their wildest fantasies. Meanwhile, there is also a subplot involving a serial killer known as the Honky Killer.
This Film provides examples of:
- Big Sleep: the penguin dies rather peacefully right before the others because he lacks the cold.
- Buffoonish Tomcat
- Culture Equals Costume: The Mexican Hairless and The Dachshund.
- Dog Stereotype: tons of them, maybe too many to list here
- Fantastic Racism: The Pedigreed Bitch, a purebred dog acts like this toward the others, who she sees simply as lowly mutts since they are not of her breed.
- Great Escape: some are attempted
- From the Mouths of Babes: Robert Downey Jr's only two lines are (to the Mexican Hairless) "Got any hair on your balls?" And (after he gets adopted) "they're all gonna die"
- Institutional Apparel: averted, the animals all wear normal looking clothes
- Mind Screw: Humans are portraying dogs all in a cage together, acting like well, dogs.
- Pounds Are Animal Prisons
- Precious Puppy: Robert Downey, Jr.'s character because of this he is saved from the impending doom.
- Serial Killer: The Honkey Killer who is the main focus of the subplot