Parents' Guide to

Hounddog

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Notorious Dakota Fanning indie too adult for kids.

Movie R 2008 102 minutes
Hounddog Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 16+

Dakota Fanning's first adult role

This movie shows Dakota Fanning getting raped and masturbating but nothing explicit.
age 14+

Average Elvis-themed '50s flick.

This movie isn't too bad, but a tad boring. It's mostly set in a country setting where children have to make their own entertainment without TVs and CD players in the '50s. It's very Elvis themed with lots of songs and a little girl (Dakota Fanning) who's pretty much obsessed with him and his music while living with her grandma and dad trying to cope with her mother leaving. When there's a concert in town, she gets offered tickets by a couple of boys who have more in mind than just seeing her sing. Her life seems to fall apart from there on. Sexual content has a young girl removing her clothes for some boys (nothing shown), then getting raped which shows her face and hands and a few screams. Skimpy outfits. A girl has a first kiss with her best guy friend. Violence includes the rape scene, a man gets hit by lightening that changes his life forever, snakes bites and gun shots, a dog getting killed. Language is very mild for our time but "bad" in the 50's with racial words and a few other common name calling. Smoking by adults and kids. I would not recommend this for children under 15.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (5 ):

Fanning is clearly talented beyond her years, but this unremarkable coming-of-age story isn't the best showcase for her acting gifts. Director Deborah Kampmeier reportedly drastically altered the second half of HOUNDDOG since she submitted a rough cut that garnered mediocre reviews and general outrage at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Without having seen the earlier cut, it's impossible to tell whether the changes made the film better, but one thing is clear -- the infamous rape scene is neither explicit nor exploitative. The scene, in which viewers hear more than they see, is a story development used to show how a pre-pubescent Lewellen is figuratively and literally silenced -- until a sage African-American caretaker (Afemo Omilami) helps her discover her "true voice" via the blues.

Unfortunately, the movie's metaphorical message lacks the intended emotional punch because it's so overpowered by banal Southern stereotypes (hissing snakes, a Bible-thumping grandmother, an emotionally abusive father, to name a few).

Movie Details

  • In theaters: September 17, 2008
  • On DVD or streaming: February 3, 2009
  • Cast: Dakota Fanning , Robin Wright , Ryan Pelton
  • Director: Deborah Kampmeier
  • Inclusion Information: Female directors, Female actors
  • Studio: Deerjen Films
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 102 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: a disturbing sexual assault of a young girl, and brief sexuality
  • Last updated: March 31, 2022

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