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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film's mottos are "Don't give up five minutes before the miracle happens" and "Be strong, be courageous, be kind." Encourages people to protect and love animals.
Positive Role Models
Finn does whatever he can to save Marshall. Although Luke is a bully, he ultimately sees that doing the right thing is more important than being cool.
Violence & Scariness
Kids bully Finn, including threatening to beat him up. Marshall has an infected dog bite, which is shown in detail. There's also some quick blood and gore when Marshall undergoes surgery. Talk about animal hoarding and its impact on the health and safety of animals.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some light flirting between adults, plus a kiss and some hand-holding. Some talk about a teen relationship with a few jealous comments about the girl spending time with other boys.
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Insults such as "loser" and "stupid."
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Products & Purchases
One reference to the chain Panera Bread.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Luke's dad drinks a beer in front of the TV.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Marshall's Miracle is a family film based on the children's book Marshall the Miracle Dog, which is based on a true story. The film takes on two somewhat dark themes -- bullying and animal hoarding -- and contains some content that may be too intense for young tweens. Animals are shown in crowded, inhumane conditions, and one dog is severely injured and in poor health. A 12-year-old boy is bullied almost constantly throughout the film, with other kids calling him names, taking his things, and threatening physical violence. Themes of parental abandonment also are explored, but parents will appreciate the strong antibullying message and the call to "be strong, be courageous, and be kind." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Although it has good intentions and some recognizable stars (such as Lauren Holly and Shannon Elizabeth), this depressing dog tale takes on issues that seem too adult for its target audience. It's enough that the film examines bullying and tries to give kids who are bullied clues on how to handle the situation. The animal-hoarding theme feels tacked on, and it's not an issue that's particularly relevant to tweens. It's also incredibly depressing, and the film can't lighten the mood, even as it encourages viewers to not give up "five minutes before the miracle."
Parents of tweens should be prepared to discuss big themes such as animal abuse, animal hoarding, and mental illness. And kids who are looking for an upbeat animal adventure should probably skip this one.
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.