A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Values parent-child bonding and understanding. Briefly acknowledges belief in God. Shows respect for animals and natural surroundings.
Positive Role Models
Father exhibits patience, encouragement, acceptance, and dependability; he is instrumental in his daughter's positive growth. Daughter, initially self-centered and sullen, is forced to be her best self, learns about teamwork, empathy, and responsibility.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent suspense. Multiple dream sequences in which U.S. soldier in Afghanistan is in danger, hears explosions and gunfire, and awakens just before he would be killed by grenade, mine, or bomb. Intense sense of peril through lengthy scenes in which a wolf tracks a father and daughter through isolated state park grounds. Wolf and dog face off, growling, teeth bared. The hero is injured in a steep fall; his face is bloody and he's unconscious.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Married couple kiss, lightly banter with some sexual innuendo.
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Products & Purchases
Eureka tents and camping equipment.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Army Dog is a live-action movie that takes a father and his teen daughter on an adventure in a mountainous state park. They're joined by Connor, a golden retriever who served as the dad's partner during his U.S. Army stint in Afghanistan. Hoping to resolve his daughter's jumbled feelings about his military service, as well as residual behavior problems from those feelings, the heroic dad hopes for a smooth bonding trip. Neither is prepared for the events that happen. Suspenseful and perilous moments include: multiple dream sequences that find the dad reliving or imagining danger during wartime; treacherous climbs, falls, and mishaps in the rugged terrain; and, finally, an encounter with what appears to be a predatory animal. No severe injuries or deaths occur. Messages -- about responsibility, empathy, and teamwork -- are solid. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Though well-intentioned, with easily relatable characters, this competently made film lacks both subtlety and surprises. From a moment early in the film when Tara's soccer coach describes the girl's on- and off-the-field behavior, as soon as the audience is clearly shown her mixed feelings -- particularly about the dog -- the problem and the resolution are inevitable. Still, it's a compelling journey at times, with suspenseful, well-executed action sequences. The canine Connor is a star: beautiful, lovable, and smart. The Van Diens (real-life father and daughter) give it their all. Tara learns what she's supposed to learn; the family comes together with renewed emotions; and the state park, in all its beauty, remains a classroom for learning about responsibility and teamwork.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.