Benji

 
Adorable dog saves the day in '70s classic.
  • Review Date: October 30, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1974
  • Running Time: 86 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A miracle prevents children from having to make a sacrifice.

Violence & scariness

Brief gun-wielding, non-violent kidnapping, threats of violence, a dog is kicked (off screen).

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although the potential danger of stray dogs is discussed in this film, it gives the false impression that stray dogs are safe to play with. It may also raise a false hope that a miracle will keep children from having to make necessary sacrifices. While the two kids are kidnapped, the scene plays as non-violent and not very intense.

What's the story?

Told largely from the dog's point of view, BENJI is the story of a stray dog and the two children who adopt him. Cindy and Paul want to keep Benji, but their stern father (Peter Breck) won't let them. The first part of the movie follows Benji as he associates with locals, hides out in an abandoned house, and falls in love with a pooch named Tiffany. The movie takes a darker turn when Cindy and Paul are kidnapped. When Benji discovers that the kids are being held in the abandoned house, he reports back to the police, and eventually helps them track down the kidnappers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

While this movie is billed as a family film, the kidnapping scenes may be troubling to young viewers. The reluctant kidnappers, who do not treat the children cruelly, are depicted in a frighteningly realistic manner. As long as parents make sure young children understand which aspects of this film are realistic and which are not (namely the super-intelligent behavior of Benji), this movie is okay for kids 6 and up.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about when it's appropriate to question the rules their parents set. If Benji wasn't such a remarkable dog, would it have been okay to keep him? What can kids do to avoid being kidnapped (not talking to strangers, etc)?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 25, 1974
DVD release date:August 17, 2004
Cast:Allen Fiuzat, Cynthia Smith, Patsy Garrett
Director:Joe Camp
Studio:GoodTimes Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures
Run time:86 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Benji was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bysss April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

classic

the movie was slow, but it was worth watching. benji has a crush on tiffany and the dogs are in love.
Parent of a 4 and 9 year old Written byhraschke November 5, 2010
age 10+
 
I remembered this as an adorable family film from my childhood. So when my husband rented it for my daughters, ages 4 and 9, I thought we'd have a fun movie night. Instead I wound up comforting two screaming, crying girls who kept asking me why we rented "the worst movie ever." They loved the dogs, but the kidnapping of the gagged children by a mean man with a gun who kicks Benji's girlfriend dog (seemingly to death) was extremely upsetting for them. We watched till the end so they could see that she had only suffered a broken leg. But they were still crying and had trouble sleeping afterward. Sigh.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educator and Parent Written bymcwessels June 7, 2013
age 18+
 

not at all what I remember

I remember the Benji movies fondly! chases with humans, a wily dog getting bones from the local cafe owner, clever hiding tricks, etc. my mind must have erased the terrible kidnapping of the kids with gags tied around their heads, huge tears rolling down their faces, and the Tiffany dog kicking part, viewers are left thinking she's dead for quite some time. We should have never watched this with our 8.5 year old, rating this ok for 6 is way off...

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass