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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain rather than educate.
Good defeats evil. Sometimes it's necessary to give up something to do the right thing. Values promoted: sharing, kindness, respect for animals.
Positive Role Models
Two featured children are good-natured, loving, and just a little bit sneaky, along with their reliable caregiver. Most adults are shown to be generous, kind, lovers of animals, and honest. Father, loving and reliable, is rigid in his opinions, but learns flexibility and that strict "rules" shouldn't always apply. One African American character.
Violence & Scariness
Both dogs and children in peril in several scenes. A kidnapping occurs off-camera, but children are held captive and gagged; tears. Villains chase heroic pet, seem heartless. Dog is kicked and, for a lengthy interval, it's not known whether or not the pet survives (it does).
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Products & Purchases
This 1974 movie was the first in the Benji franchise, which includes films, toys, and other products. It has been remastered and released on Blu-ray.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Benji, originally released as a feature film in 1974, has been remastered and was released on Blu-ray in 2018. More than half of the movie consists of pastoral and small-town sequences in which Benji, an adorable stray who can do "miraculous" things, romps through his surroundings on his own or in the company of Tiffany, another delightful little dog. It's only in the second half that conflict builds and Benji and his friends are in danger. Sensibilities have changed over the decades, and though it originally received an MPAA rating of G, the movie contains some scenes (e.g., two kids are kidnapped, gagged, and held captive) that may be frightening for kids who cannot distinguish between real and pretend violence. And some scenes in which little kids and dogs are in trouble (spoiler alert: a dog is kicked and its well-being is unknown for some time) may be disturbing for some older, more sensitive kids, as well. Of course, a stray dog is this movie's hero, and parents might want to caution kids about interacting with stray animals. Benji appeared in a number of sequels following the success of this original movie. It's easy to see why. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Sequence after sequence of Benji on his own -- romping, prancing, and acting very much like a dog with a plan through small-town streets and sumptuous woodlands -- is simply delightful. Director Joe Camp, who generated a franchise with this family film in 1974, makes the most of the captivating dog, his natural habitat, and small-town America. But even Camp couldn't just put up 86 minutes of dog home-movie. He had to provide a story as well. That story is a by-the-numbers kidnapping affair, with bickering villains who imperil both kids and beloved pups. There's a happy ending, of course, but caution: A boy afraid, a little girl crying, and a doggie mistreated may be unsettling for little kids or very sensitive ones.
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.