A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pup Star: World Tour is the third movie in the Pup Star series (Pup Star and Pup Star: Better 2gether) from the Air Bud Entertainment family. It follows lead character Tiny, a miniature fox terrier, the winner of the Pup Star reality television show, in her new role as judge in the quest for best pup star in the world. Many characters from the earlier two movies are back, and though it would be helpful to know the backstories from those films, the movie should still engage new audiences who are fans of talking dogs and their exploits. Old canine villains and their human accomplices are up to new tricks as they seek both stardom and revenge. Cartoon action includes slapstick falls, crashes, dog-nappings, dogs confined to a canine correction facility, chases, and several electric shocks delivered (comically, though they still may elicit a cringe) to both dogs and humans. As the pups travel around the world, audiences can expect dogs with distinctive exaggerated cultural attributes: dialects, costumes, music. They're comical and not meant to offend. As is "Ida," the family's Mexican housekeeper who is as smart, likable, and funny as she is stereotypical. As in the first two movies, there's lots of music here -- with rappers, reggae performances, and even a smidgen of opera as the Chinese diva takes the stage. Fine for families with kids who are comfortable with mild, cartoon violence.
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What's the story?
Tiny, the enchanting songstress-fox terrier and Pup Star champion (voiced once again by Kaitlyn Maher), is elated when she's chosen as a judge for an international canine singing competition in PUP STAR: WORLD TOUR. Tiny and three other judges -- Britain's Simon Growl (Steve Valentine), Jamaica's Dog Gnarly (Ziggy Marley), and New Jersey's Lady Paw-Paw (Nikki Blonsky) -- travel across the globe to choose the best of the best to compete in New York City for the title of Global Pup Star. Unbeknownst to the stalwart judges, Bark (George Newbern), an angry dog still smarting from his loss to Tiny in an earlier movie, tries to sabotage the effort with his accomplices, including the ever-dastardly human, Roland (Jed Rees). Complications ensue, including major dog-napping escapades, a "kiss-and-tell" session that threatens Tiny's romance with P.U.P. (Mackenzie Sol), the disappearance of Scrappy (Tiny's rap star little sister), and a daring prison escape.
Is it any good?
Lots of slapstick humor and pratfalls, kid-friendly suspense, bouncy music, and "internationally quirky" talking dogs help this sequel rise a bit above its predecessors. Talking dogs get old quickly in movies like this, but singing dogs -- especially given the wide range of tunes and voices here -- keep this movie fresh. Pup Star: World Tour has just enough energy, campy humor, puns, and canine heroism to keep audiences engaged. And "One pack, one voice, one world" delivers its message about the universality of music, albeit not very subtly. As expected, the buffoonish bad guy is laughably over-the-top every moment he's on-screen, and the exaggerated but gallant Latina housekeeper is a stereotype, but even those characters will evoke laughs, especially for primary-grade kids who are OK with pretend violence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about cartoon violence versus real violence. In movies like Pup Star: World Tour, the action is intended to be funny and a little bit suspenseful. Very young kids could find even such comic danger scary. How does your family decide when the kids are ready? Why is it important to know the impact of even cartoon violence on kids?
This movie is a sequel to two other Pup Star films. If you've seen one or both of the other two, did this one meet your expectations? Why or why not?
What are "stereotypes"? Which characters in the film are ethnic stereotypes? Do you think the intention was to laugh at these characters or to enjoy their distinctive cultural traits? How can you tell the difference?
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