By Brian Costello,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Intense teen survival story has racial epithets, rabid dog.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
In spite of their perceived differences, Andy learns to like Antonio as they try and survive in the desert.
Positive Role Models
None of the characters is exactly a role model.
Violence & Scariness
Graphic scenes of maggots crawling on an animal carcass, later removed by a character and used to treat the bleeding, infected, and nearly gangrened wound of another character. A venomous snake is shown biting one of the characters, and another character treats the bite by taking out a knife and cutting into the skin where the bite happened. An older character falls to the ground, the victim of a stroke. The family dog runs away, catches rabies, is presumed dead, returns to the movie driven mad by the rabies and trying to attack the two main characters, is later shot to death by a border patrol officer.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Before falling asleep while lost in the desert, one character tells another character, "Don't get any ideas. We're not sleeping together."
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Profanity from the older characters as well as the teenage character include "hell," "ass," and "damn." The older character uses racial epithets derogatory towards Latinos.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Early in the film, reference is made to the teenage daughter being in trouble with the law and her mother for going to a party where there was drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is packaged with Benji's Dog Tale Collection, but is much more graphic and mature than Benji movies. Instead, viewers will see an intense portrayal of a troubled teenage girl lost in the desert with a teenage boy. The movie includes racial epithets directed at Latinos, a family dog driven mad by rabies who gets shot and killed, graphic scenes of injured legs and snake bites treated with maggots and pocket knives, and mild profanity.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
After being in trouble with the authorities, as well as her mother (Catherine Bach), for being at a party where there was alcohol, teenager Andy (Alana Austin) is sent to spend time with her Grandpa Nate (Ernest Borgnine). Grandpa Nate takes her to Castle Rock for a camping trip, but when he collapses from a stroke while Andy is away looking for their dog, Andy must learn to survive in the Arizona desert. Along the way, she befriends Antonio, a Guatemalan teenage athlete who is being pursued by the border patrol because he escaped their clutches.
Is It Any Good?
Not even Ernest Borgnine can rescue this mess of casual racism, unrealistic scenarios, bad acting, and forced storytelling. To say nothing of the graphic scenes of maggots, a snakebite, and the fate of the poor dog in this film. With all these factors taken into consideration, there should be something in this to disturb almost everyone, adults and children alike. The desperate attempts at racial harmony in the film in no way overcome everything else that's going wrong here.
CASTLE ROCK is included in the Benji's Dog Tale Collection of canine-themed movies. Be warned: This film is not only not a dog tale, but what happens to this dog during the film would not be something dog lovers would enjoy under any circumstances.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Grandpa Nate's use of racial slurs. How does this reflect his attitudes and beliefs, and how does the film contradict these attitudes and beliefs as Andy and Antonio get to know each other better?
How accurately do you think this film portrays how to survive if lost in the desert?
What is the film's message about immigration and the challenge of regulating it?
- On DVD or streaming: November 16, 2006
- Cast: Ernest Borgnine, Frank Gorshin, Pamela Bach
- Director: Craig Clyde
- Studio: Allumination
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 7, 2022
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