A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Adventures of Rufus: The Fantastic Pet is a swashbuckling movie with lots of cartoon action, suspense, narrow escapes, arch villains, and kids in danger. The title character, Rufus, is an unidentifiable but amiable furry animal who leads the young hero and heroine into an adventure filled with wizardry, spells, sorcerers, and all manner of powerful magic. Confrontations with a crocodile, a dinosaur skeleton, a fire-breathing dragon, and a predator-owl, as well as with humans who battle with lasers, electrical charges, and hand-to-hand combat are frequent (no injuries or deaths). The filmmakers include strong messages about care for the environment, as well as the value of teamwork and standing up for a cause.
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What's the story?
Framed by a grandfather reading a book to his two grandchildren, ADVENTURES OF RUFUS: THE FANTASTIC PET introduces the kids to the magic of storytelling. In the book, young Scott (Kyler Charles Beck) arrives to spend some time with his grandmother (Linda Eicher) in her gigantic mansion. Joining him for the visit is Emily (Madelyn Kientz), a friend and schoolmate who lives nearby. Together the kids explore the amazing house with its secret doors, locked rooms, and bizarre collections. They meet the grandmother's three very weird servants, who just may be up to something sinister. The most amazing find of all is Rufus (voiced by writer-director Ryan Bellgardt), a furry, hybrid creature from the parallel kingdom of "All-In." Rufus desperately needs their help. His world is near ecological devastation. He and "partner" Abbott (Cory Phillips), Head Wizard of All-In, have been sent to earth by the queen to find a special "magic dust" that can restore their homeland. What follows is an adventure filled with danger and excitement that includes a centuries-old amulet, a book of spells, and some ferocious opponents who will stop at nothing to upend their plan and use the magic for themselves.
Is it any good?
Fanciful narrow escapes from sorcerers and beasts of prey, plus some engaging performances, will appeal to kids in spite of cheesy special effects, overblown villains, and a shoestring budget. What elementary-schooler isn't fascinated by a crocodile nearly devouring a beloved talking pet, a skeletal dinosaur almost consuming that same pet, and a fire-breathing dragon threatening everyone? Cory Phillips as Abbott, the mistake-prone good wizard, is solid and very likable. The kids are all comfortable in their roles. At the same time, Leah H. Philpott, Topher Owen, and Nicholas Simon as the villains chew the scenery relentlessly. Adventures of Rufus: The Fantastic Pet is OK for kids who are accustomed to cartoon violence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about cartoon violence in live-action movies like Adventures of Rufus: The Fantastic Pet. Was it meant to be realistic? Cartoon-like? How can you tell? What is the impact of different types of media violence on kids? How does your family decide which kids' action movies are suitable in your home?
The final scene of this movie tells the audience that a sequel is in the works. What can you expect to see next time? How do you think companies decide whether or not to create a sequel or sequels? Would you want to see more of Rufus, Scott, Emily, and Abbott?
The movie says, "Don't let the world get so bad that it needs magic to fix it." What does this mean? How can kids get involved with care of our planet?
- On DVD or streaming: May 26, 2020
- Cast: Kyler Beck, Madelyn Kientz, Cory Phillips
- Director: Ryan Bellgardt
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 83 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: fantasy action and mild language
- Last updated: September 10, 2020
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