A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there are thrills aplenty in Balto, an animated adventure based on a true story about rural Alaskan kids with a serious illness. Youngest viewers might not understand the threat that looms over the town, but older kids will get the gravity of the situation when they see small coffins being fit for those kids who might not make it through the epidemic. Dogs growl and fight and are in peril; some kids will be scared of Steele, the bully, and the grizzly bear. On the positive side, the movie promotes acceptance and reinforces the value of friendship.
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What's the story?
Based on a true story, BALTO centers on a brave dog who saved the lives of Alaskan children with diphtheria when he brought medicine to them through the snow. Half wolf, half domesticated dog, Balto (voiced by Kevin Bacon) has a hard time fitting in with either species. A jealous rival frames Balto for theft, ensuring that Balto will not be chosen to lead a rescue mission. But when the rescue party gets lost, Balto steps in to save the day, with the help of his friends, a Russian goose (voice of Bob Hoskins) and two polar bears (both voice of pop star Phil Collins).
Is it any good?
Though it's not the most original or beautifully animated kids' movie out there, Balto is engaging, and kids will probably be quite entertained. There are some good laughs, and the voice performances are well done. Be aware that there is some peril and scary scenes involving the mean dog Steele and a grizzly bear encounter. Kids may also get upset when they see the small coffins that are being made for kids who might not survive the epidemic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Balto's struggle to fit in. Was it fair of the other dogs not to accept him? Can you think of examples this type of unfair judgment that you've witnessed?
How did Balto's friends help him in difficult times? Are your friends there for you when you're having problems?
How could you find out more about the dog who inspired this movie?
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