Billy and Buddy

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Billy and Buddy Movie Poster Image
Subtitled French dog tale has odd suggestiveness.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 82 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Billy and Buddy offers positive messages about family unity, the value of pets, and taking a child's feelings seriously.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parents are engaged and present but sometimes act unintentionally cruelly toward children, such as by trying to drop a dog off in the countryside without telling the child. Children are realistically well-intentioned but flawed; they're mischievous and prone to jumping to conclusions but aiming to do the right thing.

Violence

The movie contains some instances of peril. A dog attempts to walk along a balcony rail and falls to a flower pot below rather than the street. A turtle falls down a trash chute but survives. A kid runs away briefly but is reunited with his parents. A child lights matches over a trash chute, inadvertently setting it on fire and endangering an apartment complex, but no one is hurt. A boy is locked in a room briefly. A dog rides on the bumper of a truck at high speed but is not injured.

Sex

A dog and turtle are wildly attracted to each other and often flirt, expressed in voiceover from the animal's perspective. A turtle refers to the dog as a "dreamboat, muscular and hairy all over" and says she's getting dizzy when he's around. It's played for comedy, but some of it is suggestive of humping or orgasm, all with a backdrop of breathy French pop music. A man and woman kiss briefly.

Language

Minor profanity in a handful of instances, such as "damn dog" or "move your ass" (expressed in subtitles).

Consumerism

Could encourage the extreme desire to adopt a dog or turtle.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A boy drinks Kool-Aid at a pretend bar in a fantasy scene where he's a cowboy at a saloon in the Old West.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Billy and Buddy is a French film (Boule & Bill), subtitled in English, about a 1970s French family's adventure adopting a dog. There is some very minor profanity ("damn" and "ass") in subtitles, and some suggestive flirting between a turtle and a dog. A father also attempts to get rid of the dog by dropping it off in the countryside without telling his son, and the son runs away briefly during one scene. Otherwise, it's a moody, ultimately very sweet rumination on childhood and pet ownership through a child's eyes, but it's best for older kids with solid reading skills.

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What's the story?

When Billy (Charles Crombez) meets Buddy, a lively cocker spaniel, at the local pound, it's love at first sight. Billy convinces his mom (Marina Frois) and dad (Franck Dubosc) to adopt Buddy, but his parents soon regret it, struggling with the dog's naughty antics, especially when they move from their spacious house and yard to a high-rise in the city. There, each family member (and a new addition to the family in the form of a turtle named Charlotte) will grapple with what it means to own and love a dog and how to balance a child's love for a pet with the needs of a modern working family.

Is it any good?

BILLY AND BUDDY is gorgeously and vividly shot and has the haze of nostalgia both for the 1970s and a more free-range childhood that any Western audience likely will relate to. The subtitles mean it's best for older kids with quick reading skills, and those reading skills mean exposure to a few curse words as well as an offbeat attraction between a turtle and dog, which sometimes cuts a little too close to more mature expressions of love. That said, the film is a well-acted, sweet look at the love of a dog, both in its simplicity and havoc-wreaking on a family, as well as the growing pains of familial negotiation, with a lot of comic relief in the mix.​

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dog ownership. What happens when a family member doesn't like a dog? How should the situation be handled? What did you think of how the father in the film dealt with his feelings toward the dog?

  • Are current moms and dads like the parents in the film? How are they the same? How are they different?

  • This movie is set in France. Does it seem different from America? Why, or why not?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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