A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bingo is a 1991 movie about a gifted dog who travels on paw from Denver to Green Bay to be reacquainted with his master. It's a painfully unfunny comedy filled with inappropriate behavior from both humans and dogs. Bingo escapes a circus as a woman shoots a rifle at him. The tween boy who adopts Bingo curses ("s--t"), gives his brother the middle finger, and looks at a pornographic magazine. Bad guys put a gun to Bingo's head and threaten to shoot. A father slips in dog excrement. A cook walks around his kitchen, where there are many caged dogs; he makes reference that the secret ingredient of his hot dogs is dog meat. For dog lovers (or animal lovers in general), there are so many questionable -- if not outright offensive -- moments that it's difficult to imagine how this movie was made.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Bingo is a dog who lives with cruel owners who run a traveling circus. After failing to jump through a flaming hoop, Bingo is forced to escape. He flees to nearby woods, where he comes across Chuckie, a tween boy who is knocked out face-down in a creek after attempting a jump on his BMX bike. Bingo performs CPR on Chuckie, and the two become inseparable after a night hiding in a tree from a ferocious bear. But Chuckie's parents (Cindy Williams and David Rasche) don't want a dog in the house, especially since Chuckie's father, a field goal kicker, is traded from the Denver Broncos to the Green Bay Packers. Bingo is left behind in Colorado, but relentlessly pursues Chuckie, which leads him on adventures involving chefs who keep dogs prisoner for dog meat and two bad guys who take families hostage and try to throw football games in order to make money at betting. In spite of these and other obstacles, Bingo stops at nothing to be reunited with Chuckie.
Is it any good?
BINGO is a failure as both a comedy and a dog movie. The jokes aren't funny and many of the scenes involving Bingo are shocking in their cruelty. For instance, poor Bingo gets shot at with a rifle by his original owners, and later gets a gun put to his head by a bad guy taking him hostage. And that's just the beginning of the outright bizarre attempts to mine humor out of a dog who can perform tricks running the spectrum from knowing Morse Code to walking a straight line for a police officer after he drinks a bottle of champagne.
This movie can't even be enjoyed in a "so bad, it's good" kind of way. There really is nothing redeeming about it. None of the characters are likeable, the "gags" consistently fall short, and the content overall is without merit. It's difficult to imagine pet lovers of any age finding anything worthwhile in this awful movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about comedies. What sort of humor is attempted here? How could it have been more effective?
How is this movie similar to and different from other dog movies?
What is the appeal of dog or animal movies? Do you prefer ones where the animals talk? Why or why not?
- In theaters: August 9, 1991
- On DVD or streaming: August 26, 2003
- Cast: Cindy Williams, David Rasche, David French
- Director: Matthew Robbins
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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