A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There are a number of clearly stated messages. Rin Tin Tin enables an American soldier during World War I to bond with a German prisoner of war, emphasizing the commonality of man through concern for animals. Training animals should be done with love and affection, not punishment. And finally, played throughout: "When you have a good heart, you'll have good luck."
Positive Role Models
With the exception of one mean-spirited captain and a treacherous cook, the soldiers are portrayed as reliable, honest, caring, and brave. They all show concern for Rin Tin Tin, illustrating man's responsibility to vulnerable animals in their care. Reflecting the setting (military compound in France) and the time (1917-18), there are no females and no characters of color.
Violence & Scariness
There are multiple cartoonish action sequences: an army cook chases dog and boy brandishing a rolling pin; the dog chases a robber through a crowded marketplace, upending food carts and people; "Rinty" spills oil on the kitchen floor so the cook falls repeatedly; there's a silly pig stampede. More seriously, a young child is captured by crooks who hope to sell him; the dog-hero rescues a baby carriage from a burning building. There's one brief air battle during which the hero's plane is hit and he is injured. An avalanche buries the French village, but once again, Rin Tin Tin comes to the rescue.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
French soldier flirts with an army nurse.
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No swearing, but the army cook showers a young boy with insults throughout: "cockroach," "lazy boy," "worm," "good-for-nothing." Lots of potty humor: farting on several occasions; Rin Tin Tin acts human as he poops in a toilet. The dog purposefully pees into the cook's drink and we watch the cook drink it and react.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Soldiers drink alcohol in several scenes. The mean cook drinks to excess. Rin Tin Tin inadvertently consumes a small bottle of whiskey and becomes drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this live action movie, about the exploits of a hero dog during World War I, contains numerous cartoon-style action sequences in which characters fall, slip, crash into things, and are hit by tumbling objects. Despite the level of mayhem, no one is ever hurt. There are some suspenseful moments: walking through wreckage in a bombed out city, a baby carriage trapped in a burning building, an avalanche bearing down on a town, and a brief air battle which results in the human hero being shot, but not severely injured. One mean character often threatens and verbally assaults a young child ("cockroach," "good-for-nothing"). He's also responsible for capturing, caging, and trying to sell the boy. There's lots of potty humor: dog farts, human farts, and Rin Tin Tin is shown pooping on a human toilet. The movie contains some drinking and drunkenness, including one scene in which Rin Tin Tin accidentally becomes inebriated. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The movie makes conceptual missteps: over-the-top comic pratfalls, extended mistreatment of a young victim of war by a cruel army cook, and ridiculously unbelievable rescues. (Rin Tin Tin saves an entire village covered by an avalanche of snow by leading the soldiers to one rooftop.) What might have been an uplifting story about a talented, brave, and almost-smarter-than-human dog and his new friends, has little to recommend it.
The amateurish special effects, wooden acting, and the simplistic-in-your-face messages, certainly don't help. The best that can be said is that the dog is lovable, the relationship between Rinty and his master is heart-warming, and it's interesting to find out how the real Rin Tin Tin came to America.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.