A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Firehouse Dog is a doggy adventure that includes unexpected dramatic elements -- like Shane's fear that his fire-captain dad will die. Known for ditching school and disobeying his father, Shane has behavioral and communication issues. He and his father also both deal with grieving the recent loss of a relative. A few fiery sequences may be too intense for very young kids, even though no one gets hurt. A boy is stuck in a burning house with an arsonist. Basic PG curses: "suck," "crap," "jerk," "stupid," "dumb," "hell," etc. As for canine antics, Rex is so pampered that he's even set up with three female poodles waiting on a doggy bed. But he doesn't indulge, instead running to help save people from a fire.
What's the story?
Shane (Josh Hutcherson, whose considerable on-screen charm and expressive face make him destined for at least an entire adolescence in Hollywood) is asked by his fire-captain dad (Bruce Greenwood) to take care of an outgoing mutt who was saved from a local fire. But Dewey is no ordinary dog -- he's really Hollywood top dog Rex, star of such blockbusters as The Fast and the Furriest and Jurassic Bark. Presumed dead after a film stunt gone awry, Rex starts to dig his new life as Shane's -- and later the firehouse's -- wonder dog.
Is it any good?
FIREHOUSE DOG is a sweet enough pooch pic with just enough laughs -- and heart -- to save it from the formulaic mediocrity of many family-friendly flicks. While the movie's marketing emphasizes all of Rex's dog tricks -- and there are plenty -- Firehouse Dog also touches on some heavier themes. Shane and his dad are still mourning the death of a relative who died in a mysterious fire. Shane skips school and disobeys his father's rules, and the captain's squad is quickly devolving into the fire department's "last on the scene" joke.
But fear not, families, it's still a kids' flick -- so Shane, Rex, and the eclectic crew of firefighters eventually come to the rescue. Before the final fire is put out, father and son have a touching heart-to-heart, and Rex decides that living like a star (one whose celebrity extends to tabloid gossip about his dalliances with Paris Hilton's Chihuahua, no less) is nothing compared to being a hero. And that's not a bad message for media-saturated kids ... or their celebrity-obsessed parents.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie deals with gender roles. When Pep shows up at the party in a dress, her friends act surprised that she looks like a girl. Is being a firefighter only for boys?
What messages does the movie send about society's values by contrasting Rex's Hollywood life with his adventures as a fire dog? Kids, would you rather be a Hollywood star or a firefighter? Why?
Can you think of other movies that feature heroic dogs?
- In theaters: April 4, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: July 31, 2007
- Cast: Bill Nunn, Bruce Greenwood, Josh Hutcherson
- Director: Todd Holland
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: sequences of action peril, some mild crude humor and language.
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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.