Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Balto Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Brave dog saves kids in fun but tense fact-based film.
  • G
  • 1995
  • 78 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 27 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Since the movie is based on a true story, kids will learn some lessons about the role dogs play in Alaska's rural communities.

Positive Messages

Positive themes of friendship, acceptance of those who are different, bravery, and selflessness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Friends help each other save the day. Their friendship is almost as important as the main character's heroic deeds, because they encourage him to believe in himself.

Violence & Scariness

This adventure contains plenty of peril: from dogs falling off of snowy cliffs to children who are so ill that their lives hang in the balance. We see small coffins being fit for those kids who might not make it through the epidemic. Dogs growl and fight. Some kids will be scared of Steele, the bully, and the grizzly bear. There are also bonks on the head given for comedic effect.

Sexy Stuff

Some flirtatious behavior between dogs. "I know where all of the bones are buried," says Steele to Jenna when he is trying to get her to go out with him.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 9-year-old Written bykaloren June 12, 2011

Great family adventure

This is a great movie about helping others and courage. Yet, it can get really scary with dogs figting and coffins that are kid sized. Be sure your kids are re... Continue reading
Adult Written bydpsg January 9, 2010
It's a feel good movie in the end. I got it based on the write-up here that did not mention how much tension there is. There are some scary parts (for ev... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 9, 2021
This was my favorite movie when I was little, and it still is. Sure, the story isn't exactly the same as the real story, but the animators were aiming it a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byWhy1379 June 1, 2020

Not a review

Had to say this someone litrally said nudity in a dog movie. THERE DOGS! they dont were clothes

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animal movies

Themes & Topics

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