Parents' Guide to


By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Italian dog tale has emotional intensity, mild language.

Movie NR 2014 104 minutes
Italo Poster Image

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Is It Any Good?

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Although this is a children's film with some characters and scenarios purposefully exaggerated for easy comprehension and laughs, Italo doesn't fall prey to glib sentiment. If you peel away the sillier subplots, irregular narration, and overacting among the adult cast, there's a tangible realism in the story of a young boy withdrawing from family and friends as he copes with his mother's death and in the widowed father's parallel struggles. An early scene where Meno silently separates the peas from the pasta on his dinner plate offers a poignant metaphor for his own loneliness. Italo, the wise and benevolent stray dog, provides the catalyst for father and son to connect again and learn to love and laugh anew.

If you don't want to adopt a dog after watching this movie, you may well decide to book a flight to Italy. First-time feature director (and, here, editor) Alessia Scarso and her cinematographer Daria D'Antonio lovingly film the notoriously-charming Sicilian town of Scicli with slow pans of stone buildings and wide shots of its valley set against the warm Mediterranean light. Italo is set in the modern-day but also seems romantically stuck in a simpler time when the traditional pillars of Sicilian life were still the town plaza, the church, the theater, school, and home. Brand Italy includes a broodingly-handsome dad cooking pasta, gorgeously high-heeled women, gossipy grandmas and grandpas, and rowdy schoolchildren biking down cobblestone streets past potted plants and hanging laundry. The setting is as much a character in Italo as the dog.

Movie Details

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