First Dog

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
First Dog Movie Poster Image
Ludicrous dog romp with some violence, consumerism.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie intends to communicate that it's always important to do the right thing. And that you mustn't take and keep what does not belong to you. But there are some iffy choices made by the boy including riding in cars with strangers and throwing a firecracker into a car.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Danny is a kind boy who is determined to do whatever it takes to return Teddy the dog to its rightful owner. The president is a kind and compassionate leader, even though he never got around to microchipping poor Teddy, which would have saved everyone a whole heck of a lot of trouble.


As he tries to take Teddy the dog from his California foster home to the White House, Danny survives riding in a camper that crashes and turns on its side, sees two con artists pull knives and guns on their pursuers, and throws a giant lit firework into a vehicle driven by two Secret Service officers. He also narrowly avoids getting hit by a speeding car. Two punches are thrown between two adult characters, but there is no blood nor injury.


Teddy the dog spends some time running through a Petco store, and escapes being pursued by running into a semi-truck filled with Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Dog Food. Later, Danny and Teddy catch a ride with teenagers who are happy because they're going to the New York, New York casino in Las Vegas, which is later prominently featured.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult character pulls out a cigarette to smoke, but never lights it.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this ludicrous canine adventure story about a kindhearted young boy who finds a missing dog owned by none other than the president of the United States has some product placement and mild violence. The boy throws a giant lit firecracker (with the active encouragement of the trucker who befriends the boy on the road) into a car driven by Secret Service agents -- not the greatest example for kids. Furthermore, the boy is continually accepting rides from strangers in order to get from one side of the country to the other. That said, his intentions are good, and the message of doing what's right stands out.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCaptainTom August 1, 2019

Simple but beautiful world

This movie is actually for everybody with no regards to age.
Kid, 11 years old March 16, 2012

Good family movie with values. Got the Dove Award

this movie shows what's good and what's bad. If you have any brains, you learn a lesson from it -- which is what the movie is about. Don't take... Continue reading

What's the story?

The president of the United States (Eric Roberts) is in Ohio to give a speech at a high school named in his honor. In the frenzy of an attempted assassination, he escapes in a speeding limo, leaving behind his beloved FIRST DOG Teddy. Lost, Teddy wanders into a pet store and then into a truck, which takes him to California. It is there he meets Danny, a shy young boy who lives in a foster home. When Danny learns that the dog he has found is the president's dog, he decides to go on a journey to Washington D.C. in the hopes of reuniting dog and owner. Along the way, Danny meets colorful characters - -some good, some bad -- while trying to elude men who Danny doesn't realize are in the Secret Service.

Is it any good?

First Dog is a mindlessly heartwarming romp. The one caveat: You have to be willing to so thoroughly suspend your disbelief that you'd believe a dog belonging to the president of the United States wouldn't be microchipped in case he goes missing, and that the same dog would travel from Ohio to California in a semi-truck and meet a boy who is so willing to take him home that he seems to have no reservations about getting into cars with strangers.

Besides all this, there is some mild violence and consumerism, and the feeling that the film is about 20 minutes longer than it really needs to be. There are plenty of other "boy and his dog" films out there that are far more heartwarming and far less ludicrous. Skip this and check those out instead.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why it would be a terrible idea to throw a lit firecracker into a Secret Service vehicle. What criminal penalties might someone incur if this was done in real life?

  • How is this film similar to and different from other films about "a boy and his dog?"

  • In the film, Danny catches rides with people he does not know. What do you think about this idea?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

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