Pups United

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Pups United Movie Poster Image
Cheesy talking-dog tale is filled with potty humor, bullying
  • PG
  • 2015
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Meant to entertain, not educate.

Positive Messages

Follow your dreams. You have to try, no matter what. Be unselfish when you're part of a team. Take risks when the goal is desirable. Some stereotypes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ryan is a young soccer player with a conscience, a healthy desire to win; he is resourceful and courageous. Parents behave unforgivably. Ryan's father, though pleasant and seeming to love his son, is weak, passive, doesn't listen to him, and doesn't believe Ryan when, at last, he does listen. Dad takes no action when faced with a bully. The prime villain (and only featured female character) is a mom, a liar, a bully, will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. One boy learns a lesson about teamwork and sharing. 

Violence & Scariness

Mild cartoon action: Dogs are trapped in a net but soon released; dogs chase villains, growl, pull down one man's trousers, leaving him in his underwear; a chase results in a clown being dragged by a golf cart.

Sexy Stuff

Insults, such as "moron," "idiots," "twits," "butt face," "imbecile," "twerp." Frequent potty humor: farts, stepping in dog poop, upset stomach leading to diarrhea, a dog purposefully urinating on an obnoxious boy.


Products featured include Pedigree dog food, Kwik Goal soccer products, Shor-Line animal products, Vizari soccer equipment, Banana Boat.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pups United is a live-action comedy that features a youth soccer team and a troop of talking dogs, all but one with international accents. Two villainous buffoons provide some of the slapstick laughs, with mild cartoon action (tumbles, chases, laughing gas, traps). More comedy is attempted in an array of running potty jokes: farting, urination, stepping in dog poop, upset stomachs leading to diarrhea. Insults include "moron," "idiots," "twits," "butt face," and "imbecile." Parents are characterized in a variety of negative ways, either as bullies or victims: mean-spirited, greedy, and cold or passive, inattentive, and incompetent. To keep the low-budget, lowbrow laughs coming, no effort is made to keep anything real; soccer competition, game rules, logical plotting, and real emotion give way to bodily functions and silliness. 

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What's the story?

PUPS UNITED tells the story of the Flying Cleats, a youth soccer team headed for the annual Kids International Cup Tournament. Kids' teams from all over the world will compete, and each will have a dog mascot to perform exciting tricks for a halftime spectacular. Unbeknownst to the humans, all the dogs can talk -- but only when no human is listening, and only in their own unique dialects. Trouble comes in the form of Ariana (Kristin Carey), a very rich woman who wants to control the American team entry. Wielding her sponsorship as power and falsely accusing star Ryan (Matthew James Roberts) of cheating, Ariana succeeds in getting Ryan thrown off the team and her son made captain. Ryan's dad, who is the coach, doesn't stand up for his son. At the same time, two clownish criminals have hidden a stolen flash drive in the tournament trophy; they will do anything and everything to get it back and deliver it to their "buyer." As the Flying Cleats struggle for victory without their star player and the bumbling villains wreak havoc trying to get to the trophy, it's the dogs -- with a little help from Ryan -- who can come to the team's rescue.

Is it any good?

There's nothing to recommend this talking-canine time waster, with its amateur production, predictable story, lowbrow humor, and trite characters. The only passable moments come from a pleasant performance by Matthew James Roberts as Ryan and some scenes in which a gang of international soccer mascots -- dogs with dialects -- do tricks and talk among themselves. There's an entire genre of pet movies with bumbling criminals just waiting to get hammered by the pets and their owners; this one doesn't pass muster even by the lowest standards. The plot is a nonsensical mess; characters show up any place and at any time. Grown-ups are characterized as ridiculous throughout; messages are delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Still, kids will laugh, an acknowledgment that even the most inept filmmaking team can get by.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that adults can be bullies too. Who is the bully in this movie? How could Coach Todd, the victim, have behaved differently to stop the bully's awful behavior?

  • Why do you think filmmakers count on potty humor to get laughs? How does it make their job easier?

  • In Ryan's family, which includes his dad, his grandfather, and himself, who was the most responsible and take-charge? In what ways?

  • Why are talking-animal movies so popular? Which is your favorite?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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