A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain, not educate,
Stay focused on goals; follow-through is important. Good defeats evil.
Positive Role Models
Heroes (a boy, a girl, and a dog) are resourceful, persistent in reaching for their goals, and loyal to one another. Boy's parents are reliable, understanding, and competent. Girl's single mom is a devotee of all things new age. Villains are bumbling, brainless, and clumsy. No ethnic diversity.
Violence & Scariness
Slapstick action. Dimwitted, comic criminals frequently fall, get bonked on the head, hit in the groin, chased by a dog, bit on the backside, and so on. The two heroic kids are briefly held captive by the villains. A spooky shack contains a skeleton and spider webs. A couple of kid bullies menace the young hero.
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Potty humor: "poop in pants." Lame-brain villain insults his even lamer-brain brother, remarking upon his stupidity and incompetence.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
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.