Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Interesting tale of plucky WWI dog has some war violence.
  • PG
  • 2018
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 6 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids will learn a lot about World War I and its most decorated war dog -- like where the regiment fought, who the United States' allies were in the war, who the armies were fighting, and what kinds of warfare were used.

Positive Messages

Many positive messages about teamwork, dedication, perseverance, and courage. The courageous men -- and dog -- of the United States and French armies work to defeat the German invasion, keep civilians safe, and rescue one another as allies. Promotes the honor of serving your country in the armed forces and of animal helpers like Stubby.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There aren't many characters who aren't white men (not all that surprising, given the context), but the role models -- both canine and human -- are positive: Stubby and Conroy are both brave and work well together. They communicate and act as a team. During dangerous events, they try to rescue others (particularly Stubby, who helps dig people out and bring them to safety). Gaston never loses his sense of humor or his love of life and his family. The French and American soldiers learn to appreciate and respect one another.

Violence & Scariness

World War I scenes can be disturbing -- like when the American soldiers prepare for gas attacks, and then on the Western Front, when the soldiers engage in trench warfare with bombings, poison gas, guns, tanks, etc. A secondary character dies in battle, and in a couple of scenes, it seems like the main characters, including Stubby, may die.

Sexy Stuff

Flirting between a soldier and a French villager.


"Darned," "moron," "froggie" (derogatory reference to the French).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The French soldiers often drink wine. One soldier jokes: "The French go from their mother's milk to the juice of the vine" when he offers an American soldier a drink. An adult has/smokes a pipe.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is based on the true story of a stray Boston Terrier that becomes part of the U.S. Army's Yankee Division in World War I, accompanies soldiers to the western front, and ends up the most decorated war dog in American history. It's animated and aimed at kids, but be ready for war-related violence -- including trench warfare, bombings, shootings, gas attacks, etc. A secondary character dies, as do background soldiers audiences don't know personally. And the main characters are nearly killed several times. There's a bit of mild flirting, pipe smoking, and some drinking; one soldier particularly enjoys drinking (and offering) wine. Parents and kids who watch together will have a lot to discuss about WWI history, military dogs, and the movie's messages around teamwork, communication, and courage. Logan Lerman, Gerard Depardieu, and Helena Bonham Carter co-star.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRillaVesper January 3, 2019

Perfect for 8 and up

A great movie to teach kids about World War 1, courage, and loyalty.Stubby is adorable and the historical value excellent. One secondary character is killed of... Continue reading
Adult Written byAnne B. April 26, 2018

suprisingly great

Took younger siblings to see it when I was home on spring break. It was good for all ages - college friends and I enjoyed it just as much as they did. No unca... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bythemovieman123 April 9, 2021

Don't worry about the 2+ rating, this is a fantastic movie for people of all ages.

War violence but technically nothing is really shown so i'm going to go ahead and say that there is technically no violence.
Teen, 13 years old Written byAkugustine January 25, 2021


As long as kids know what’s happening, and that they shouldn’t be afraid, it can be really enjoyable. You can’t see any of the injuries so it isn’t that inappro... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on a true story, SGT. STUBBY: AN AMERICAN HERO chronicles how a plucky Boston Terrier ends up working himself into the 102nd Infantry Regiment's training grounds in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1917. The charming stray is named Stubby by his new human, young Corporal Robert Conroy (voiced by Logan Lerman), who's a member of the Army's 26th (aka "Yankee") Division. Stubby is quickly adopted into the division and becomes its mascot. When the Yankees are deployed to the western front, Stubby hides on the ship with Robert, who's allowed to keep him during active duty in France. While overseas, Stubby accompanies Corporal Conroy and an older French infantryman named Gaston Baptiste (Gerard Depardieu) to the front, eventually becoming an honorary sergeant for his service.

Is it any good?

This animated film has a surprising amount of impact, offering an educational introduction to war history, along with messages of teamwork, courage, and more. The narration by Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret, Conroy's older sister, isn't strictly necessary, but it provides structure to the story, which is based on real events. Lerman's voice performance as a young-ish soldier is believable and sweet, particularly in contrast to Depardieu's worldly, wise Gaston, who becomes part of the "Three Musketeers" with Conroy and Stubby. Younger kids may need more information beyond what the film's exposition offers to understand the story's historical context, although it's possible they'll just focus on Stubby's deeds and not wonder too much about how realistic the movie may or may not be.

Something refreshing about the portrayal of Stubby is that he isn't overly humanized. With the exception of a few tricks (he can salute a superior officer), Stubby does what dogs naturally do: smell, find, dig, retrieve. Stubby doesn't speak, and he only wears a "uniform" when presented with a military-style cape by a French civilian. The movie's war scenes may occasionally be a bit too realistic for more sensitive younger viewers, but there's plenty of sweet humor, too. Informative and clearly well-researched, Sgt. Stubby is interesting enough to keep tweens entertained and cute enough to make younger kids want to learn more about the real dogs of war.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero. Is it necessary to the story? How is animated war violence different from live-action, fantasy, or superhero-movie violence?

  • How do the characters demonstrate courage and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

  • What does teamwork mean to you? How did the characters in Sgt. Stubby show good teamwork? Why is teamwork important?

  • What did you learn from the movie? Did it make you interested in learning more about Stubby's story or those of other "war dogs"?

  • How close to the truth do you think the movie is? Why might filmmakers decide to change things in a fact-based film?

Movie details

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