A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film includes some perilous situations for humans (a fall into a crevice and icy water, frostbite and broken limbs) and huskies (they face freezing cold, blizzards, starvation, and predators, with the number of perilous "days on their own" marked by subtitles). The oldest dog must be left behind (sad scene), some dogs are injured and/or die, leaving sad-looking survivors (mournful eyes, nuzzling the dead bodies). One jump scene features a ferocious (animatronic) leopard seal, who leaps out with teeth bared to defend a whale carcass it's been eating. Some gentle romance and a kiss. Some mild language (s-word).
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In EIGHT BELOW, scientist Davis McLaren (Bruce Greenwood) arrives in Antarctica in search of a meteorite and embarks on an excursion led by guide Jerry (Paul Walker). Also on the trip are Jerry's team of eight sled dogs and his human pal Cooper ( Jason Biggs ). When Davis falls into freezing water, the team has to rush him back to base. Then a powerful storm hits, and the guys must fly off and leave the dogs behind. Jerry is half delirious from his ordeal, unaware that they won't be able to come right back to retrieve his "family." And so the dogs' adventure begins. They must break loose from their tether, find food and shelter during the storm, and face down a fierce leopard seal. This goes on for some 175 days, while Jerry, stuck back in the States, looks for funding and means to get back to Antarctica to save them.
Is it any good?
The dogs in Eight Below are excellent -- courageous, expressive, smart, and adorable. Their human costars? Well, they're okay too. But however regular Jerry's story may be, whenever the movie turns back to the dogs, it pulses with a terrific vigor.
Early scenes of their trek are gorgeous, the dogs running along through a grand landscape, tiny but still vibrant as they seem in tune with their environment. From the gallant elder dog Jack to the new kid Max (with striking blue eyes) to the gallant only female Maya, the dogs are completely winning, their efforts to look out for each other are inspiring, and their wonderful faces enchanting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the loyalty between Jerry and his dogs: While other people think he goes too far, he sees the huskies as family members. How does the movie make the dogs seem like people, with the help of soundtrack music and close-ups to show "expressive" faces?
What is your favorite dog movie and why?
How does this dog movie compare to others you've seen?
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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.