Benji the Hunted

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Benji the Hunted Movie Poster Image
Benji shines in another simple but engrossing dog tale.
  • G
  • 1987
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old December 14, 2010

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?

This is a simple, tearjerkingly manipulative and yet shamelessly entertaining cross-species adventure. Benji the Hunted has Disney's ace production values and an entire ensemble of trained wilderness critters "acting" opposite the expressive Benji. 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.

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

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