Call of the Wild

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Call of the Wild Movie Poster Image
Dog-centric adventure drama is age-appropriate but bland.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 86 minutes

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Kids say

age 2+
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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

A young girl sheds her preconceived notions about rural life and begins to enjoy her environment.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character lies at one point, but there are consequences, and she learns a lesson. A grandfather forges a strong relationship with his granddaughter (though he also gets upset with her). The neighbors are bullies, but it's clear that their behavior isn't meant to be emulated.

Violence & Scariness

Two neighbor characters are menacing; one man flashes a rifle.

Sexy Stuff

Motherlovin' is as envelope-pushing as it gets.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this sweet but predictable film inspired by Jack London's classic novel is squeaky clean -- there's no nudity, drinking, smoking, or swearing. And the message, while conventional, is positive: Sometimes what you want may not be what you need. That said, there are a few scenes/characters -- bullying neighbors, a grandfather getting upset with his granddaughter -- that make the tone a little too grown-up for the youngest viewers. It's also worth noting that the film is presented in 3-D in some locations, which could make some of the images more intense for little kids.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byGeekyReader101 November 28, 2012

Boring but appropriate

Really cheesy and predictable. This isn't anything like the book. The good thing is that theres nothing inappropriate about it.

What's the story?

Inspired by Jack London's classic tale, CALL OF THE WILD finds young Ryan Hale (Ariel Gade) shedding her big-city ways while visiting her grandfather (Christopher Lloyd) in Montana. When she finds a wild dog at death's door, it brings out her inner nursemaid, and she devotes herself to healing the animal, which she names Buck. Ryan decides to enter Buck as lead dog in an upcoming sledding race, and all goes well until a local bully and his father start making noise about the dog not being Ryan's to keep. Even her grandfather, who reads the London novel to her out loud as motivation, begins to doubt his decision to support Ryan when she lies about a practice that went awry and Buck runs away. Is Buck ready to be tamed?

Is it any good?

CALL OF THE WILD means well, but that's not enough to make it compelling. Problem number one: lackluster dialogue. "It's Tracy," announces one character as his crush approaches. "She's the prettiest girl in town." (Who talks like that?) Number two: cheesy foreshadowing. Every time a particularly enigmatic local shows up onscreen, the wind whistles, solemn music trills, and the camerawork slows. (Ah, he must be a mystic!) Number three: a storyline that, put plainly, hits all the expected marks without much distinction (it screens like an after-school special). Plus, the race that everyone anticipates so hotly is stripped of any excitement.

But the movie tries -- does it ever! -- and you can't fault its earnestness. It means well, and the landscape looks pretty, too. With a feel-good story like this, it's best to shoot straight for the heart.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Ryan learns over the course of the movie. Do others learn something from her as well? Why does the wolf dog tug at her heart? 

  • Families can also discuss the appeal of nature/animal movies. How does this one compare to others you've seen? And if you've read the book, how does it stack up to that?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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