A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bark Ranger is another in the live-action, popular "talking dog joins up with good kids against bumbling criminals" genre. There's nothing like some really boneheaded bad guys tripping over themselves, making one bad decision after another, and farting and burping their way into the hands of the law to provide lowbrow laughs for primary and middle school-age kids. The requisite farcical action sequences -- chases, tripping, falling, head bonks, groin smashes, bullies on the prowl, and a skeleton popping up -- are intact here, along with two always brave kids on a quest to save the "family farm," which in this case is a national park with financial problems. And shoring up the humor while keeping tabs on the plot with a sassy worldview is Ranger, a beautiful talking dog voiced by Jon Lovitz. Nothing is truly suspenseful or frightening here; no antics result in injuries, and the villains are never more than inept clowns.
What's the story?
An idyllic national park is in danger of losing its funding in BARK RANGER. Jack Keller (Lucius Hoyos) lives in that park with his forest ranger dad and mom, along with his BFF Ranger, a dog who, even though Jack doesn't know it, keeps up an amiable conversation with the world around him. Though Jack partly wishes he lived in a city instead of the quiet of the park and its adjacent small town, when he learns that they may have to move, his path becomes clear. He'll do just about anything to save the park his family has tended for generations. Not too far away, the felonious Festrunk Brothers are hiding out in the park with a carload of gold bars they've stolen. When Jack and a new friend, Chloe (Zoe Fraser), unexpectedly come upon a map that may lead them to a legendary treasure, the two kids are sure to cross paths with the two brainless baddies. And cross paths they do -- especially when the Festrunks realize their gold bars would be mightily enhanced by the buried treasure the kids are searching for. Two gold treasures, two half-wits, two motivated kid investigators, and one highly articulate dog lead to a spirited confrontation with much at stake for everyone.
Is it any good?
Bark Ranger is better than it should be, because it actually has some funny moments. Rather than simply being over-the-top, exaggerated simpletons, the two villains (Marty Adams and Jason Blicker) perform with some genuine gusto and even clowning expertise. Plus, the likable kids who depend on their wits, courage, and the wisecracking dog (voiced by Jon Lovitz) are a step above the usual unpolished performers in this genre. Though entirely predictable and derivative, for kids who understand real vs. pretend danger and who think farting, having a gurgling stomach, eating dog food, and pooping in one's pants are hilarious, this is the real deal.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the timeliness of including bullies in movies for kids. Has seeing such stories raised your awareness of the dangers of bullying? Have you noticed positive changes in your own attitude or in your school because the popular media has made bullying a prominent issue?
How does it serve a filmmaker's purpose to make the villains in movies like this one foolish and laughable? How would it change the movie if the criminals were competent and dangerous? Would the story still have kid appeal and be suitable for them?
List some of the story elements and characters here that have appeared in many other movies (examples: a talking dog, hidden treasure, bullies). Do you prefer familiar stories or stories that are original? What are the merits of each type?
- On DVD or streaming: April 14, 2015
- Cast: Jon Lovitz, Lucius Hoyos, Zoe Fraser
- Director: Duncan Christie
- Studio: Breakthrough Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: rude humor
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love slapstick comedy
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch