A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No overt educational elements, but some important life lessons come out of this story, including the value of friendship and love. Because the film is set in the '50s, kids will learn a bit of history and something about segregation.
Emphasizes the rewarding bonds formed between a child and a pet, as well as the responsibility that comes with being a pet owner. Characters learn from their mistakes, change for the better, and develop lasting relationships even during difficult times. In one poignant scene, a returning soldier reveals that he ran from battle not because he was afraid of dying, but because he could not participate in killing.
Positive Role Models
Willie is a bright, caring, responsible 9-year-old. In one scene, the frustrated boy makes a terrible mistake; he pays for it, and learns a valuable lesson. Willie's parents are loving, supportive, and loyal; his mom stands up strongly for him, and his dad, though strict, proves to have his son's best interest at heart. Set during World War II in Mississippi, the young hero befriends the African-American people in his small town.
Violence & Scariness
Early in My Dog Skip, school bullies relentlessly torment Willie, push him down, throw things at him, call him names. Moonshiners push Willie and Skip around, threaten them, and ultimately hurt the dog. The scenes that show violence against animals are real and cruel, and have more impact on young viewers than the exaggerated cartoon action they're accustomed to. A deer, bleeding and dying from a hunter's gunshot, falls to the ground. Skip, the dog, is hit twice, once with a shovel, after which he nearly dies from his injuries. Willie's dad, a war veteran, limps and has a prosthesis, which is briefly seen.
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Some insults: "sissy," "titty baby," "ass,"" "stick it up your big fat butt," "kraut" (for German). A brief discussion about how a puppy's "testicle has not descended." It's 1942; African-Americans are identified as "colored."
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Products & Purchases
Old signs for Coca Cola and Texaco appear throughout. Tampa Nugget Cigars are visible.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A World War II soldier returns home, shattered by his experience, and drinks excessively for a time.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that My Dog Skip is a nostalgic "boy-and-his-dog" movie, inspired by a true story, that contains a number of violent and/or sad scenes that show animal abuse, some physical and mental repercussions of war, and the death of a beloved pet. Even when the ugly incidents take place off-camera, the sounds and implication may be disturbing. Both the boy and the dog are in danger several times, enduring taunting insults and threats from bullies and cruel moonshiners. There's some offensive language ("ass") and insults ("sissy"), and one character has a drinking problem. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
My Dog Skip is a good, old-fashioned boy-and-his-dog movie that is lyrical and very touching, with many important issues for family discussion. One of the most interesting scenes in the movie for older kids is the parents' debate. Willie's mother says, "He is a responsible boy who needs a friend." His father says that pets are "just a heartbreak waiting to happen." Having lost his leg -- and much of his sense of hope about life -- in a war, he wants to protect Willie from loss as long as he can. But Mrs. Morris knows that loss is the price we pay for caring, and that what we gain from caring -- and from loss -- is well worth it.
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.