A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive messages of friendship, family, and doing what's right, even if the odds are against you. Everyone has value, and "God doesn't make mistakes."
Positive Role Models
Dingledorf and his friends are kind, helpful, and supportive. Dingledorf's father and secret agent mentor also encourage Dingledorf to be the best hero he can be.
All the main characters are White; only one supporting cast member is a person of color. One of Dingledorf's friends is a girl, but she has very limited lines. The main adult characters are also men, except for two women, one of whom plays the briefly on-screen "Secretary of Offense," and the other plays Secret Agent 001's "date."
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Violence & Scariness
A fair amount of slapstick violence and humor. Adult clowns (who could be scary for younger viewers) chase and/or terrorize kids and people. There are fight scenes, lots of comedic falling and blundering, "funny" electrocution, and plenty of pies in the face. Clowns even try to run over some kids with an ice cream truck. Clowns also hold up a corner store with toy guns that shoot "laughter gas" at people, causing them to uncontrollably laugh at people. Two adult men fight each other in a house and use swords made out of a curtain rod and a broom. Two men break into a house while a child is inside. A man freezes a kid with a freeze remote. A kid agrees to follow a strange man into his truck. Then the man ties up the kid and drives away. Kids open up doors in a fun house, and each door briefly hints at unseen horrors. Also, some bigger kids show bullying behavior toward smaller kids. The leader pushes a smaller kid over, and he falls down. The bigger kid also smashes another kid's viewfinder.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to romance and sexuality when Secret Agent 001 (an adult man) has a woman over for a candlelit dinner date. Brief romantic kisses.
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A fair amount of humor involving a dog farting. Language includes "butt," "twerps," "loser," "dufus," "wimp," "twit," and "shut your trap."
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Products & Purchases
References to Steven Spielberg and Mercedes-Benz cars.
Parents Need to Know
Families need to know that Secret Agent Dingledorf and His Trusty Dog Splat is a low-budget family adventure based on Bill Myers' book series. In this playful take on the kid-as-spy/secret agent movie, Bernie Dingledorf (Zachary Arthur) finds himself the hero. Only his friends and his dog can help him save the world from a terrifying gang of clowns led by Dr. Chuckles (Ryan O'Quinn). Once a happy clown, Dr. Chuckles has since turned bad, inventing "mean laughter" guns (they look like water guns) and taking over the world. There are a fair number of faith-based messages throughout, like "God doesn't make junk" and "Everyone has value." As for the clowns, many of them are truly scary-looking, but they act silly and cartoonish. Expect lots of comedic violence throughout, including toy guns that shoot "laughing bubbles," pushing and shoving, sword fighting with a curtain rod and broom, people crashing into things, "funny" electrocution, and a "freeze remote" that turns a boy into ice. Some bigger kids display bullying behavior toward smaller kids; the leader pushes a boy down and breaks another kid's viewfinder. A dog consistently farts for laughs. Language includes "twerps," "butt," "loser," "dufus," "wimp," "twit," and "shut your trap." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This family adventure with some faith-based messages is a mixed bag. The positive messages are easy to understand and the playfulness is fun. Yet, the elements that keep Secret Agent Dingledorf and His Trusty Dog Splat from being great are many. Generally, the story generously borrows from other intellectual property, including movies like the Spy Kids and The Dog Who Saved the Holidays, and video games like Plants vs. Zombies. Additionally, there are some questionable decisions, like when the smart and well-raised main character Bernie willingly goes with a complete stranger (a scary man in a clown costume) to his truck. The clown promptly ties Bernie up and drives away. Also, the film begins with actually scary clowns holding up a corner store with toy guns. Even though the clowns act goofy, some viewers might still simply find this scene frightening and disturbing. Lots of comedic violence also better translates on a different medium, like a comic, graphic novel, or book.
Finally, there's nothing surprising about the hero, the friends, or the dog. And the dog, Splat, by the way, is on screen maybe 5 minutes total and only appears occasionally to fart, which makes the title seem odd given the dog's limited involvement.
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.