Benji the Hunted



Benji shines in another simple but engrossing dog tale.
  • Review Date: July 9, 2010
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1987
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Depiction of life of animals in the wild -- with the qualifier that most of these are trained beasts whose actions do not reflect actual animal behavior.

Positive messages

Message of responsibility, kindness, and sacrifice; Benji puts off his own rescue to look after a litter of orphaned cougar cubs.

Positive role models

Hard to do better than Benji as a selfless, heroic, and compassionate hero (who even mercifully spares the life of a frightened rabbit, a potential prey animal). Humans are almost entirely offscreen.

Violence & scariness

Non-explicit animal fights, with a few casualties (mainly from a cliff fall). A cougar is shot and killed.

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

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that an adult mom cougar is shot and killed in this wilderness tale; there are also some non-explicit animal fights, with a few casualties (mainly from a cliff fall). Be aware that there is very little dialogue or many human characters here; some kids may find this odd or need help understanding the story.

What's the story?

Benji, the expressive mutt of a series of hit family films, here plays himself -- the movie-superstar dog owned and trained by Frank Inns (a Santa Claus lookalike, by the way). As BENJI THE HUNTED opens, a heartbroken Inns is interviewed saying that when he and Benji were caught in a storm while fishing together off the Washington state coast, Benji was swept overboard and is now the object of a frantic search. Action switches to Benji's POV for the remainder: The small-but-big-hearted dog comes ashore at a forested region, where he witnesses a majestic cougar shot dead by a hunter. Next Benji finds the den of cute, orphaned little cougar cubs. Benji tries to feed, protect, and shelter the feline furballs, despite the same hunter now after Benji (for the reward money) and additional threats from a menacing wolf, a hungry eagle, and a blustery bear. While later, similar films blended smarty-pants actor voiceovers with slick CGI to create humanlike characters audiences could "relate to," animals here stay completely non-verbal.

Is it any good?


Benji the Hunted has Disney's ace production values and an entire ensemble of trained wilderness critters "acting" opposite the expressive Benji in a simple, tearjerkingly manipulative and yet shamelessly entertaining cross-species adventure. Although dated, it should hold kindergarten-and-up viewers especially transfixed -- even cynical grownup critics said that little Benji could out-act many homo sapiens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Benji's adoption of the cougar cubs and putting their safety ahead of his own. How would this story have been different with a human hero? Would it have been as good?

  • Discuss how the plot unreels nearly without dialogue or people (not even celebrity talking-animal voiceovers!). Ask young viewers if they had trouble comprehending the movie, or if they liked it better that way. Maybe Benji the Hunted can be a gateway to showing kids old silent-era films, which also relied on mime and unspoken communication.

  • Parents and kids who are nature-savvy might pick apart the oh-please

  • moments and inaccuracies, from the big ones (a cougar would be likely

  • to make a meal out of Benji on sight, sorry) to the more esoteric ones

  • (an owl, in reality a silent flier, here makes enough noise for a 747).

  • Parents and kids who are nature-savvy might pick apart the oh-please moments and inaccuracies, from the big ones (a cougar would be likely to make a meal out of Benji on sight, sorry) to the more esoteric ones (an owl, in reality a silent flier, here makes enough noise for a 747).

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 17, 1987
DVD release date:January 17, 2006
Director:Joe Camp
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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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.

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Adult Written byapplebutter December 7, 2012

Benji the Hunted

This is a Benji movie, so most of us know what to expect. Some warnings, though: (Spoilers) Benji is in CONSTANT peril in this movie.The wilderness is a scary place, but this movie is more like one animal after another wanting to eat Benji. Be aware little kids may not be able to handle this. Also, one of the kittens is taken by a raptor near the end of the movie. Since Benji has spent the entire movie trying to defend the cute kittens, this may be upsetting. I personally found it needlessly cruel for a children's movie. On the other hand, the movie has beautiful scenery. The eat-or-be-eaten view of nature is much more realistic than other movies for kids in which predators and prey often get along in sappy sweet storylines.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Kid, 8 years old December 14, 2010
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages


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