Firehouse Dog

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2

Content: +3

Josh Hutcherson, Bruce Greenwood, Bree Turner, Dash Mihok. Family comedy. Written by Clair-Dee Lim, Mike Webb, Michael Colleary. Directed by Todd Holland.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A movie star dog (the star of The Fast and the Furriest and Jurassic Bark) gets lost, then found and taken in by the son of a fire chief. The 12-year-old has issues mostly brought on by the sudden death of a beloved uncle and a distant father who masks his sadness with work. But soon the once pampered pouch proves himself a valuable asset to the fire station, helps reunite father and son, and then aids them in detecting the culprit of a recent batch of arson fires.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Despite the comedy antics aimed at the eight-year-old set, Firehouse Dog manages to bring a smile to the faces of accompanying adults. Its cute, but no way could it be called smart. Id prefer to show kids my video alternative: My Dog Skip.

Drawn from Willie Morriss best-selling memoir, My Dog Skip is a coming-of-age tale that looks back on how a terrier pup helped a shy boy, bullied by schoolmates and strictly handled by an aloof father, come to grips with loneliness.

Set in WWII-era Mississippi, the film has a Norman Rockwell ambience; gentle enough for little ones, but also involving for older kids and their parents. Funny, yet, sensitive, My Dog Skip reminds us of what a great gift mans best friend really is. Tenaciously loyal, unfailingly forgiving, and unquestionly loving, our four-legged companions teach their custodians how to relate to fellow beings while giving us memories that last a lifetime. A gentle, delightful film, it does require a guardian to be seated next to toddlers. For although it has the adventure of a BENJI, it also contains the poignancy of OLD YELLER. Production values are all top drawer. Young Frankie Muniz as the films junior protagonist is never cutesy or precocious, but rather down to earth. It is replete with lessons in friendship, loneliness, and death. And that dog - he could give Snoopy charm lessons! The best boy-and-his-dog movie since Lassie Come Home!

My Dog Skip is rated PG (Seven or eight expletives, but I caught no harsh or profane language; one scene features the parents smoking a cigar; the boy has to prove himself by staying all night in a graveyard, where he encounters moonshiners who threaten him; later, they hit the dog with a shovel (off camera); a deer is shot by hunters, but this scene is there to teach the boy a lesson; a father is a bit harsh, but we learn why, and it is obvious that he loves his son; after a long life, the dog gently passes away).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
20th Century Fox

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Some mild crude humor and language; when the dog belches, the boy calls it a mouth fart; the dog fluctuates several times. It does contain one of the more gross visuals Ive seen, a dog doing his business in a pot of stew.

Obscene Language: A couple of mild expletives but no harsh or profane language.

Profanity: Two uses of the phrase Oh my God.

Violence: An arsonist is the cause of a mans death; he threatens the boy; theres an explosion and the boy and dog are trapped in a burning building. There are a few other action sequences played for drama, but overall, the material is handled with discretion by the filmmaker.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: The boys father has a beer in one scene.

Other: While much of the film is gentle slapstick humor, the film also deals with serious issues such as the loss of a loved one.

Running Time: 102 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.