A Dog's Tale

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
A Dog's Tale Movie Poster Image
Poor quality boy-turns-into-dog movie has iffy behavior.
  • NR
  • 2003
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

Not yet rated

Kids say

Not yet rated

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

If you look hard enough, there might be a vague nod to believing in your wishes.

Positive role models & representations

The characters start out flat and they remain flat.

Violence & scariness

A dog gets injured while fighting a grizzly bear. He lies down in the snow, left for dead, with blood around him. A cranky older man shoots a rifle at a dog he believes is trying to steal his chickens. Some bullying: Two bigger kids pick on the main character, hanging him by the tag of his coat on various objects like window sills and swingsets.

Sexy stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

A group of hobo-looking men sit around a flaming barrel next to some railroad tracks drinking from a bagged bottle.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Dog's Tale is very poor quality and though some younger viewers might not be bothered by this, there are so many better dog movies for kids that this one is not recommended. Kids engage in behavior that would not be considered safe today -- like wandering around a homeless encampment where men are drinking from a bottle. Some storylines involve kidnapping and bullying, as well as a scene where a dog/human gets in a fight with a bear and appears dead.

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What's the story?

Tim Webster is a tween boy who wants a dog for Christmas. When his parents tell him no, Tim goes for a walk around his town, where he comes across a group of hobos hanging around a railyard. One of the hobos, a man known as "The Professor" (Gordon Jump), tells Tim that if he wishes on the Christmas star, his wish will come true. Tim begins to wish for a dog, but a bee buzzes around him, and when he says "I want" he adds "a bee!" to the sentence, then says, "a dog." He wakes up the next morning as a German Shepherd. In dog form, Tim must figure out a way to turn back into a tween boy in time for Christmas.

Is it any good?

Yikes -- A DOG'S TALE is one terrible movie. Perhaps in better hands, this boy-turns-into-a-dog movie could have been something enjoyable, but what we have here is a mess of bad acting, gaping holes in the plot, and flat attempts at comedy and drama. Also, there are voiceovers that are so incredibly bizarre, adults might question their sanity. You almost expect to see the Mystery Science Theater 3000 silhouettes appear to make witty comments about the awfulness of this film. Unfortunately, they're not there.

Everything about this movie screams "amateur hour," though some kids might be entertained regardless. But luckily for parents and kids, there is no shortage of great dog movies to substitute.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about "good" and "bad" movies. What are some of the qualities that make a movie good or bad?

  • In this movie, kids approach strangers and do what they tell them to do. What would be the consequences of doing this in real life?

  • Why are there so many movies about kids and dogs? Which are your favorites?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love animals

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