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Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Max Movie Poster Image
Brave military dog saves the day in intense adventure.
  • PG
  • 2015
  • 111 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 22 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

People can change for the better. A hero always tells the truth, no matter what the consequences. Suggests that good acts are rewarded and bad ones punished. Courage is a valuable trait. And, of course, trust your dog if he's been trained by the U.S. Marines.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kyle is the embodiment of patriotism and ethics in his role as a U.S. Marine and as a friend. Justin makes some questionable decisions, but viewers also see his loyalty to his family. Max is unshaking in his devotion to protecting Kyle -- and later Justin and his family.


Soldiers are killed in an explosion. Criminals threaten Justin and his father with huge guns; the bad guys are very menacing throughout the movie, and they target other children, too. Chase scenes. Vicious dogs attack each other. One dog is killed in a fight.


Teens kiss.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man offers another a bottle of beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Max is an uplifting -- although pretty intense -- story about a boy who bonds with his dead brother's military dog. It has some heavy themes (specifically, dealing with loss) and very violent moments, including explosions that kill soldiers in combat, threatening confrontations, and chase scenes in which criminals menace teenagers with huge guns. Teen characters kiss, and adults drink beer, but aside from the military violence and other tense moments, there's little iffy content here. That said, things can get emotional as the main character absorbs the movie's central messages about loyalty and heroism.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 year old Written bycjs3205 June 28, 2015

More intense than I thought

Great movie with lots of emotion. We cried, we laughed, and we were on the edge of our seats. However, I will say some of the scenes were tense for children... Continue reading
Adult Written byBob516 June 26, 2015

Really depends on the child

Took my twin daughters, turning 11 years old next month, to see this movie. One daughter, who likes scary books and movies enjoyed it, and was not bothered by... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCrackingCracker June 28, 2015

Sad and violent

I would say you wouldn't take a person under 13 to go see this movie. I thought it would be better to make it rated pg-13 because kids might see scary imag... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKmfan97 June 27, 2015

your kids may enjoy this movie but I wouldn't recommend wasting your money.

I just saw this movie today and by the time I left the theater I could see why it had a 46% on rotten tomatoes. I would say that in terms of violence this movie... Continue reading

What's the story?

Brave, intelligent, and movie-(dog) star handsome, MAX is a military-trained Belgian Malinois who works with his Marine master, Kyle (Robbie Amell), in Afghanistan. Kyle's friend/fellow soldier Tyler is illegally selling recovered weapons; his nefarious actions get Kyle killed. In the wake of Kyle's death, Max falls into a violent, anti-social depression, so the military asks Kyle's family to take the dog. Max bonds with Kyle's younger brother, Justin (Josh Wiggins), who's been traumatized both by trying to live up to his soldier father's standards and by Kyle's death. As Max and Justin heal each other, Tyler comes to town and involves the family in his gun running, putting them all in harm's way. Max understands all of this and takes action; intense chase scenes, dog fights, and threatening pistol-wielding all follow.

Is it any good?

With engaging performances that bolster a scenario combining Americans' attraction to heroic military epics and our love of dogs, this movie hums along. Max is magnificent and gives a performance that makes Rin Tin Tin and Lassie look like chopped liver. Owing to a need to wrap things up neatly, the movie can sometimes feel formulaic and even obvious: The bad guy is melodramatically identified early on, and when he pops up later in the story, Max goes nuts trying to communicate the danger -- but, hey, humans just don't listen. Still, there's lots to like about Max, and you can certainly expect your heartstrings to be tugged.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the many ways there are to deal with the loss of a loved one. How is grief portrayed in Max? How do you think you might react in similar circumstances? Who could you turn to for help/support?

  • When parents and children have conflicts, what can help them better understand each other?

  • What role does violence play in the story? Do you think it's necessary to the plot? Which has more impact -- the scenes of explosions and threats or the emotional ones in which characters deal with grief? Why?

  • How do the different characters in Max demonstrate courage? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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