Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Robo-Dog Movie Poster Image
Live-action comedy has disturbing scenes, dumb story.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

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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

Attempts to promote dealing with grief in a positive way. Sneaky, greedy people with no compassion lose out to those with principles.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most adults are dim-witted, fawning, or greedy and selfish. Parents are seemingly loving and compassionate but often misguided in their behavior and advice; they function with little insight despite their desire to do the right thing. No ethnic diversity.

Violence & Scariness

A beloved dog dies (off camera) early in the film, in a wholly unpleasant way. (Spoiler alert: the dog dies of heatstroke after being trapped in a hot attic.) Cartoon action in numerous scenes: Villains fall, are electrified briefly, bump into objects, catapult into a Dumpster, and so on. Suspenseful climax in which an explosion that might blow up the town is imminent.

Sexy Stuff

Some rude humor: A dog tells a boy that his female friend "may one day sniff your butt." A man making awkward, mildly suggestive motions toward a dog is called "a pervert."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Robo-Dog is a live-action comedy about an 11-year-old boy whose father tries to replace his deceased beloved pet with a robotic dog. "Dog," with whom the boy has a warm and loving relationship, dies tragically early in the film (off camera), but it's an extremely disturbing death and is caused, in part, by the boy making a small mistake. Farcical cartoon action -- falls, electric shocks, crashes, chases -- and an attempt to build suspense with an impending explosion are all played for humor. Bad guys are silly, over the top, and never truly threatening. In one mildly offensive scene, which will go over the heads of most young kids, a dog-napper appears to be molesting the robotic dog, and a passerby yells "pervert." Low-budget, clumsy effects (far from "special") attempt to show a real dog as a robotic one, and it's always unconvincing, and even a bit creepy, when the furry robotic dog body is shown headless on a lab table. The constantly changing tone, from grief and sadness to wild dog-napping antics and back again, is confusing and diminishes any possible emotional connection to the characters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJDBarnes December 17, 2020

Disturbing and ridiculous

As mentioned in the "need to know" section, there's an extremely disturbing plot line where the family dog dies - not of old age! There are too... Continue reading
Adult Written byo12f December 6, 2018


Cheap movie! Low on actors, really bad special effects

Movie seems to be for family but kids wouldn't enjoy it at all.
Teen, 16 years old Written byThromsty51 May 11, 2020

Really bad!

The movie could have been enjoyable if its budget was higher than 10 pounds. As a video editor, I want to puke after this horrible experience. The plot is hot r... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old March 29, 2020

Pretty Good Film

I think this movie has so much charm and made me cry! I recommend it.

What's the story?

After a tragic accident, for which Tyler Austin (Michael Campion), age 11, feels responsible, his eccentric inventor dad Tom (Patrick Muldoon) creates a robotic dog for him in ROBO-DOG. With a superbattery at its core, Robo-Dog and its many attachments can work miracles, including fending off some corporate wrongdoers, headed by Mr. Willis (Wallace Shawn), who'd do just about anything to retrieve that miraculous superbattery. But can the sweet-talking robo-dog help Tyler forget the beloved pet Tom is trying to replace? It's a question answered very soon when the wrong-doers escalate their efforts, and it appears that the town is in jeopardy from a massive explosion of their making.

Is it any good?

It's highly unlikely kids of any age would be entertained, edified, or even slightly moved by this very dumb story in the hands of amateur filmmakers. Well, unless a boy finding his canine BFF in an attic dead from heatstroke is a story starter to your liking and ham-handed acting and lame special effects are your cup of tea. The audience doesn't actually see the boy discover his dead dog, but the mistake that triggers the tragedy and a quick flash of a thermometer in a small attic space announces what is to come. And Tyler is allowed to grieve for a whole weekend before his parents ask if he wants a new pet. These events are topped only by a few semi-offensive sight gags (the worst of which involves a predator appearing to sexually molest a dog, and the best of which is the same predator revealing his undershorts decorated in red hearts). The only saving grace is Olivia d'Abo trying to give a calming performance surrounded by ineptitude of grand proportions. Unfunny, emotionally empty, and relentlessly stupid, the movie is an all-around miss.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the loss of a pet has great impact on our lives at any age. If you've ever experienced such an event, how did you cope with it? What did you find that helped lift your sadness? How would you comfort a friend grieving over a pet?

  • Business people are often depicted in movies for children as greedy and/or foolish. How does such portrayal influence your attitude about people who work in the business world? Why is it important to recognize such stereotyping? Describe someone you know in any business, large or small, who is good, is honest, and makes a contribution to your community.

  • It's difficult to combine comedy and tragedy in one movie. Did this movie succeed in finding a balance between the funny and the sad? Why, or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dogs

Themes & Topics

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