A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bandit and the Saints of Dogwood is a family film about a band of misfits and their dog. This adventure features a lot of silly slapstick violence and some suspense, including a scene with kids being held hostage and a group of would-be thieves trying to rob a convenience store with guns. There's also some physical violence, such as a fight with bullies and a guard twisting a man's finger to get him to confess. Expect some name-calling such as "stupid," "fatso," and "baby"; profanity includes "shut up" and "heck." There's also a lot of bad behavior by kids, including pulling pranks on the principal, stealing, and talk about other hijinks, though the kids are usually caught and punished for their pranks. And almost every adult is a poor role model or at the very least disinterested. But parents will appreciate the overarching message that it's OK to be a little weird and that it's important to stand up for the underdog.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When Lenna (Katie McNamara); her dog, Bandit; and a band of other misfit students sneak into the school after hours to pull a prank on their principal, they foil a group of would-be robbers who are digging for buried treasure under the school. But when the principal blames the kids for the thieves' damage to the school (and catches the kids stealing the school's ice cream supply), the group is banished to a summer camp for troubled kids. Knowing they're the only ones who can save the school from the real thieves, Lenna and the gang bust out of summer camp and head out on an adventure to make it back home and save the day.
Is it any good?
Though this summer-camp tale has all the makings of a fun adventure -- including misfit kids, furry companions, and bumbling villains -- it doesn't quite hit the mark. There are too many villains, especially among the adults. A group of would-be thieves would be enough, but once you add in disinterested parents, a scheming principal, cruel camp counselors, and a few adolescent bullies, it starts to just feel like a downer. And among the kids, it's hard to tell who the real hero is, especially since Lenna is mostly bossy and cruel to the others. Huggy, the stereotypical overweight kid with the heart of gold, is the only character who feels really likable, but the movie doesn't make him the real focus.
The message that you don't have to fit in to be a good kid will be appealing to kids and parents alike. And parents will especially enjoy Huggy's relationship with a mute girl named Katie, who teaches Huggy that he's perfect just the way he is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the kids' pranks. Do you think their punishment fits the crime?
Do you think the adults' behavior in the film is realistic? Why, or why not?
Do you go to summer camp? Is it anything like the camp depicted in the movie?
What's your favorite adventure film? Why is it your favorite?
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