A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strong messages of friendship, bravery, and perseverance in facing fears, with an emphasis on believing in yourself, not judging a book by its cover, and that what's in your heart matters most.
Positive Role Models
Jock is the epitome of courage and loyalty. Animals routinely stand up for and protect each other from harm. Animals and humans mentor and guide a dog through the dangerous outback.
Violence & Scariness
Film includes pervasive menace and peril for the characters, who frequently speak aggressively and act callously and maliciously. In one drawn-out scene a boy dog watched his mother die and mourns her. Animals are frequently mishandled or abused. Shots are often heard in the distance. Dogs fight; scenes include an eagle flying off with a dog and an attempt to eat him and a man drowning a dog (but the dog is saved). A dead deer is shown with flies swarming on the carcass, but no blood. A man attempts to stab another man with a spear; a shot is fired to distract him. A lion chases a dog and is threatened with a spear. An alligator is stabbed with a spear, then shot. A man is hit over the head with a pan. A wagon is set fire and a dog caged and forced to fight a baboon. A leopard viciously attacks two dogs and is pushed off a cliff.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Non-sexual nudity involves male characters without shirts on. Two dogs flirt with each other. A baboon blows a dog a kiss.
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A dog is called "lazy," a "dirty scavenger" and "worthless."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A man drinks from a flask. Men are shown visibly drunk at a saloon.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jock the Hero Dog may look like a family friendly comedy for all ages, but its use of rough-edged characters with harsh dispositions and an affection for casual violence are too mature for a very young audience. The movie includes a sad, drawn-out scene where a young dog's mother is killed and mourned, plus several scenes where the main characters are in serious danger. Themes such as perseverance and doing the right thing will ring true for kids mature enough for the rougher stuff. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Jock the Hero Dog is an entertaining, competently animated CGI tale about a runty dog's triumph over adversity. However, its dark themes, ruffian characters, and gritty plot points make for an unexpectedly heavy viewing experience given that the film is clearly marketed as family entertainment. Concepts such as death, aggression, and senseless brutality, set against a bleak landscape, are more mature than expected, and make for an overall uneven tone.
The film is based on the true South African story of Jock of the Bushveld, a book originally released in 1907, twice made into movies that also struggled to find an audience due to its mournful overtones. In spite of these tonal missteps, there's plenty to enjoy for kids in this high-stakes, engaging adventure about a curious, fun-seeking dog on his own out in the world. Parents will appreciate the all-star cast, but may find the oft-repeated cliches about following your heart and doing the right thing a tad heavy-handed.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.