A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that other than some juvenile jokes about dog farts, this movie is a good pick for tweens. Though there is bullying behavior, there is also modeling of kindness and teamwork -- something you don't find every day among this age group.
What's the story?
Benito Soledad (Matthew Knight) has just moved to town from Barcelona. He feels like his dog Finn is his only friend. Little does he realize that the neighborhood mad scientist, Mrs. Madsen (Ana Gasteyer), is concocting a brew that will change his dog into a human. Though adjusting to human form takes a little time, Finn (Ryan Belleville) teaches Matthew a thing or two about playing Frisbee and shows him how to make new friends. But can Matthew's new friends keep Dr. Madsen from turning Finn into a permanent science experiment?
Is it any good?
This is a decent addition to the dog movie repertoire. It's not a new concept, this idea of dogs and humans changing forms; from werewolves to The Shaggy Dog, this tune has been played before. But what is nice about this film is the concept that dogs can teach humans something about being part of a pack. That, and that playing a sport for the sheer pleasure of play, is what being a kid is all about.
There are a couple laugh-out-loud moments, though some of the puns are a little worn. Families who feel that their dog is a member of the brood will delight in watching Ryan Belleville play the loyal dog who becomes human. He maintains the innocent rambunctiousness that we love about our canine pals. And the mad scientist neighbor is wacky enough to be a memorable character: how many mad scientists wear curlers and a bathrobe in the lab, yet still let loose an evil laugh?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Matthew has a typical first day of school. How would it be to move to a new town -- or in Matthew's case, a new country -- in the middle of seventh grade? Who does he turn to in order to make new friends?
Matthew spends more time with his dog than he does on the computer or in front of the TV. Is this true to life?
Bullies are no fun. In this movie, Matthew is taunted by the kid across the street. What's worse? A real life bully, who jeers from the back of a school bus? Or a cyberbully who makes life miserable online?
For kids who love dogs and school stories
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