Boathouse Detectives

Movie review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Boathouse Detectives Movie Poster Image
Fantastic slumber party fare with problem-solving kids.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Shows kids carefully sorting through clues to solve the case, which could encourage problem solving skills.

Positive Messages

Ingenuity and perseverance are big here. Kids combine various talents -- brains, paintball skills, powers of persuasion -- to solve a case.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All the kids are sweet and have good intentions. Tiffany does a lot of eye-batting and sweet-voiced flattery to get what she wants, but she's as engaged as the boys in solving the case. Max confides in the other kids about his years in foster care, which motivates everyone to help Anna. All the adults are over-the-top stereotyped, however. The gold digging stepmom and the dog catcher are big bumbling meanies. The grandma is quite dotty.

Violence & Scariness

Two characters have deceased parents, though there are no details. Anna is taken from her grandmother forcibly in a dream and her step-mom gives her dog to a mean dog catcher. The dog catcher makes a throat-slitting motion to tell a boy what will happen to his dog if he's caught without a leash. Kids are chased by adults through a house while mildly threatened and the adults are pelted with paint balls.

Sexy Stuff

The dog catcher is always yelling "shut up!" to the dogs.


Kids are constantly on their cell phones but no brands are visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this sweet movie where kids get to play the sleuths to save a girl from living with her mean stepmother is a perfect tween slumber party movie. Violence is limited to stereotyped meanie adults getting pelted with paint balls and a girl getting her dog taken from her. Diverse kids use their various talents (and numerous cell phone minutes) to solve their case.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byteachermom16 April 8, 2016

Awesome family movie!!

Great movie!! Very clean! Great actors! Funny and interesting! My son and nephew were entranced! They laughed at many parts of it, and they LOVED the paintball... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Since Anna's (Anna Harris) father's death, her stepmom Shannon (Stacee Riekof) has been trying to get custody of her from grandma (Maureen Eastwood) so she can steal Anna's inheritance. When Shannon meets a gullible lawyer and he helps falsify papers, Shannon tells Anna to get ready to move to Europe. In desperation, Anna ties a note to a birthday balloon so she can find her grandma and escape. Lucky for her a boy finds the note near his boathouse clubhouse and shows it to his friends. They start to work right away trying to decipher who Anna is and save the day.

Is it any good?

Let's be clear: the four stars is for kids, especially kids between the ages of 7 and 10; don't miss the window, parents, because there's so much for this age to love about BOATHOUSE DETECTIVES. First of all, rowing a boat to your clubhouse -- so cool! And all the kids are ones you'd want to be in a club with. Ones who have cool hobbies and love animals and helping complete strangers. They're on their own solving a case with no bothersome adults in the way. They even live in that kind of quaint seaside town where you can tell parents never worry about letting their 9 year olds roam free (though always within cell phone range, of course).

For parents, there's no over-the-top gross-out moments to annoy  -- okay, there's a bit of fake puke, but it's not bad. But you will roll your eyes repeatedly every time an adult hops on screen. The stepmom and dog catcher are in a tie for most overdone stereotype.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how each kid helped solve the case. What talents did they bring to the boathouse? Which talents would you bring?

  • Families can also talk about how this family movie is different from many they've seen recently. For starters, where's all the gross-out humor? Did you miss it?

  • Adults are pretty stereotyped here. Why do you think that is? Would the movie feel as light and humorous if the mean stepmom seemed more real and less silly?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love tween fun

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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