Golden Winter

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Golden Winter Movie Poster Image
Cute puppy movie with iffy premise, behavior.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Viewers will get some exposure to the care and feeding of dogs, but the film doesn't address any of the risks or concerns in finding, approaching, or caring for abandoned pets.

Positive Messages

Golden Winter has some ultimately positive messages about the importance of family time, sticking together, and honoring your commitments.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parents struggle to remain engaged and present in their child's life, but come to see the error of their ways. Other kids are shown as completely unsupervised, with parents who are extremely easy to lie to or manipulate. Such kids are portrayed as troublemakers, while one standout is viewed as good-hearted but led astray because of his loneliness and lack of parental attention.

Violence & Scariness

The film's premise involves the abandonment of a golden retriever and her five puppies, who are left in a foreclosed home with no food or water -- a setup some kids may find upsetting or have questions about. There's some minor peril involved when burglars break into the house to steal. Some threats of violence when the gang suggests selling the dogs for their skins. There's mild bullying and taunting throughout the film; the kids goad a fellow kid into doing their bidding to earn entry into the gang. There's some mild physical violence in a few instances -- in one, a man is hit several times in the head with a soccer ball until he's knocked out; in another, two men slip and slide around in a puddle of dog pee.

 

Sexy Stuff
Language

Fairly consistent mild insulting language, such as "dork," "idiot," "stupid," "creeps," and "shut up." Talking dogs also use mildly threatening and insulting language. They discuss killing and eating dogs who invade their territory, and use insults like "mutt" and "pipsqueak."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Golden Winter has very cute dogs but a problematic premise and some iffy behavior. A family of dogs is abandoned in a foreclosed home with the litter separated from its mother, while a gang of middle schoolers breaks into an abandoned house to find them. There's stealing and other lawbreaking, as well as some mild bullying. The film's message is an ultimately positive one about family unity, but may be upsetting for very young kids or require some discussion.

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What's the story?

Oliver's (Andrew Beckham) mom Jessica (Shannon Elizabeth) and dad (Jason Brooks) are too busy with their careers to spend time with him or keep the promises they make to try. So he finds an unlikely group of friends when a gang he becomes involved with breaks into a deserted house where a family of golden retrievers has been abandoned. Here, he unexpectedly finds a purpose, if he can juggle taking care of them while staying under the radar of the middle school gang.

Is it any good?

By cover alone, GOLDEN WINTER seems like a movie for very young kids. A litter of adorable, fluffy golden retrievers palling around and galloping about make for some cute action for dog-lovers. But the premise -- abandoned pets in a deserted house, then separated from their mother, and a gang of middle schoolers happy to break the law if it means turning a buck -- puts this film into older kid territory. There's also some minor peril and mild bullying, and a lot of manipulating a good kid into doing bad things because he's lonely and his parents don't pay attention to him. (It's also worth mentioning that the CGI of the talking dogs is hilariously amateurish.)

Kids who love dogs and puppies in particular may be entertained by the lovable stars, but parents may want to do some explaining about abandoned pets (both the seriousness and how to approach them if they should come across any), and the prevalence of risky illegal behavior here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about keeping promises. Why is it so important to keep your promises? What happens when we don't keep our promises?

  • What should you do if you see a stray dog or cat? What happens to pets that people don't care for properly or abandon?

  • How should you approach a strange dog? Can you tell when a dog is upset or scared? What do they do, and how should you react?

Movie details

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