Max 2: White House Hero

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Max 2: White House Hero Movie Poster Image
Forgettable tale with cute kids, gallant dog; some violence.
  • PG
  • 2017
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

At end of film, still photographs of a number of American presidents and their dogs.

Positive Messages

Sometimes kids' instincts are to be trusted. Kids around the world have much in common. Agreements between enemies can be forged despite differences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two young leading characters, while privileged and indulged, are adventurous, bright, and open to new experiences. Their relationship is a positive example of kids from different cultures making friends. Parents are loving and well-meaning but, in the tradition of such stories, mostly clueless. One-dimensional Russian villains. An overweight woman is the butt of humor. Ethnic diversity throughout.

Violence & Scariness

Suspense and several action sequences; kids and dog in peril. No injuries or deaths. Hooded kidnappers chase and attempt to capture children; dog fends them off. River-rafting sequence in which kids are in danger after boat overturns. Kids are held against their will, locked up after tussles with villains. Dog is menaced with knife, is kicked at, struggles with spy. Girl is trapped in a careening car.

Sexy Stuff

It's implied that a girl is menstruating.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Max 2: White House Hero is the second Max movie, the first of which told the story of a brave military dog. It's the same dog character, but none of the human characters or situations is in any way related to those in the first film. Heroic Max is now in the employ of the U.S. Secret Service and called upon for a special assignment at the White House during negotiations for a Russia-U.S.A. nuclear arms treaty. It's about a gallant dog, two 12-year-old offspring of world leaders, spies, and a gathering of bumbling adults. Several sequences find both the dog and the kids in physical danger (spoiler alerts): kidnapping attempts by masked hoodlums, a near drowning in river rapids, children held captive, several narrow escapes, and lots of brave dog action. There also are some sad moments when the kids are forcibly separated from their canine friend. This is not suitable for kids who aren't comfortable with reveal vs. imaginary violence. 

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What's the story?

Max is on assignment in MAX 2: WHITE HOUSE HERO. Filling in as a Secret Service dog for President Bennett (Lochlyn Munro), Max immediately becomes attached to the American leader's son, T.J. (Zane Austin), a kid who hasn't quite adjusted to life in a bubble. When the President's Russian counterpart arrives for a strategic arms-negotiation session with his daughter Alexandra (Francesca Angelucci Capaldi) in tow, the kids -- and, of course, Max -- find new and interesting ways to make mischief, much to the consternation of the U.S. Security Chief. But the chief's troubles have just begun. An attempted kidnapping, a suspicion of spies in their midst, and an important but peril-fraught stay at Camp David combine to involve the kids in a devilish plot by some who want the arms negotiations to fail. Espionage and danger are afoot.

Is it any good?

If you don't expect logic, a reasonable facsimile of political life, or proficient filmmaking, Max's exploits and two engaging young actors keep this routine story moving along at a brisk pace. Middle-graders and tweens should respond to the likable kids as they get into trouble, outsmart their parents, and ultimately save the world from some of the silliest, most hopelessly inept bad guys ever. Stay around for Max 2: White House Hero's end credits. Historical photographs of American presidents and their canine pets are a treat. Conventional, harmless, and ultimately forgettable, this Max adventure doesn't meet the standards set by the original.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between T.J. and Alexandra in Max 2: White House Hero. Even though they're from different countries, what do they (and most kids) have in common? How do cultural differences often set up barriers that separate people? Find an example of this in your own experience.

  • In movie terms, a "sequel" is defined as a work that continues or expands upon an earlier film. In what ways is Max 2: White House Hero a sequel? Why does making a sequel increase the potential marketing value of a movie?

  • Find out how the movie industry protects the animals who appear on film. How has the treatment of animals changed over the decades? 

Movie details

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