Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Paws Movie Poster Image
Silly talking dog movie with some violence, serious themes.
  • NR
  • 1997
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Good triumphs over evil, but the message if pretty diluted by the silly premise.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Zac faces the difficulties of moving to a new city, the recent death of his father, and living with a stepfather he does not like. He learns to come to terms with his past tragedies, and realizes that his stepfather is not as bad as he had previously believed.


Early in the film, a man dies after being shoved over a railing in a stairwell. A dog is hit by a car. He is uninjured, but is shown lying on his side after the incident. A boy is attacked by a vicious dog. He is bit on the ankle and requires home treatment with iodine. A woman is constantly threatening people with a knife. There is also some cartoonish violence on the order of a dog catapulting into the air, and the same dog being thrown from a bicycle basket and landing in a convertible.


A boy tells his stepfather to "go to hell." Early in the film, a cartoon dog is propelled around the screen by his flatulence.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A woman lights a cigarette and uses it to burn pictures in an ashtray.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Paws is a 1997 Australian talking dog movie with a ludicrous premise and some mostly comic violence. A boy getting bitten in the ankle by a vicious dog; a man is killed by being shoved over a railing in a stairwell; and a dog is hit by a car, but ends up unharmed. Also, a tween boy tells his stepfather, "Go to hell." For younger viewers, the content issues and the complications in the storyline will make this tough to watch, no matter how cute or funny they may think the talking dog is. Older viewers will probably snicker at the mid-90's computer technology.

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What's the story?

A brilliant scientist named Alex is trying to hide the money he has made from his inventions from the clutches of his evil ex-wife. He has fled to Australia from Iceland, but she finds him anyway. He hides his money and leaves mysterious clues as to its whereabouts on a pink floppy disk that he hides in a pack held by his adorable Jack Russell terrier. When the woman murders Alex, the dog escapes and ends up with a boy named Zac, who has just moved to Sydney, Australia, with his mom, sister, and stepfather. Zac gets to know his next door neighbors, who knew Alex well. Meanwhile, the dog uses Zac's computer and his voice recognition software to make it so he can talk just like Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Once the dog is talking, everyone must work together and find Alex's money before the evil Icelandic ex-wife steals it.

Is it any good?

If you can somehow focus your attention entirely on the spectacle of Scottish comedian Billy Connolly playing a talking dog, you might enjoy this. Of course, the problem is that PAWS tries to do much more than be about a talking dog. In fact, the movie vacillates wildly between the problems a tween boy faces over the death of his father and his dislike of his stepfather as they move to a new town and have no money (serious), and, well, a talking dog who is also a whiz at computers and always has a witty retort for the world (not so serious). In other words, Paws tries to be Beethoven with a serious side, and doesn't really succeed at either.

But, at the end of the day, Paws is a talking dog movie, for what it's worth. However, to be warned, the dog does get hit by a vehicle, and while he survives unharmed, that will be disturbing to younger viewers and dog lovers of all ages. Also, scenes of the dog being "comically" thrown from a bicycle basket 50 feet in the air to land in a convertible might not please the dog lovers either.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movies with personified animals. Why is it entertaining for people to see movies where animals talk and act like humans?

  • Where did the movie try to realistically capture Zac's family life? Where did the movie seem unrealistic?

  • What differences do you notice in computer technology from 1997, when this movie was made, compared to today?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

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