A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while Fluke was originally marketed as a family film, it includes several deaths and many scenes in which people lose or mourn their loved ones. The principal animals are in danger throughout -- subjected to cruelty, abandonment, a medical lab experiment, and harsh capture. Though it is not religiously or philosophically explored, a light-hearted acceptance of reincarnation is at the heart of this film so that the human hero, as a dog, can take a second look at his life. Generally, despite the lovably talented dogs, this is an often confusing, very sad film that may be upsetting to young kids, sensitive kids, and animal-lovers of any age.
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What's the story?
Just after a strangely violent car accident in which Tom (Matthew Modine), a young husband and father, is killed, a puppy is born. FLUKE is no ordinary puppy. Flashes of memory, people, and places reveal to the little dog that he's really Tom! And he's come back to life because the wife and son he left behind may be in great danger from the man who caused the accident. Scared, alone, and homeless, Fluke discovers that he has to save himself before he can save his family. He's captured, rescued, abandoned, and captured again. Along the way, he meets some extraordinary characters: a courageous mutt named Rumbo (voiced by Samuel T. Jackson), a frail down-and-out street woman, along with assorted defenders and villains who manage to complicate his every move. Making his way home at last, Fluke makes an astonishing discovery and learns more about those he loved, those he feared, and, most of all, himself than he ever knew before.
Is it any good?
There's an earnest, heart-warming story about the value of an examined life somewhere in Fluke. The movie is well-acted with wonderful music, surprises, and performances -- especially from Comet, one of the most enchanting canine actors ever to grace the screen. But death and danger abound, and are delivered with cruelty, brutality, and lots of sadness.
Viewers, especially young ones, may be in constant fear for Fluke's life and well-being. Some challenging issues are introduced as well: medical experiments using animals, reincarnation, and homelessness. Families with older or mature kids would do well to watch Fluke with them. It may spark discussion, and it certainly will have an emotional impact.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the audience for this movie. Who do you think the filmmakers made this for? How can you tell who the intended audience is? Do you think the content is appropriate for the intended age?
Often it seems that a movie with animals in danger or killed is scarier and harder to watch than those involving people in peril. Is this true for you? Why do you think we become so heavily invested in the animals?
What does the scene in the medical laboratory tell you about the filmmaker's view of using animals for research experiments? Do you think it's realistic? Where would you look to find out more about the issue?
- In theaters: June 2, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: March 6, 2001
- Cast: Matthew Modine, Max Pomeranc, Nancy Travis
- Director: Carlo Carlei
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild language and thematic elements
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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