Slappy and the Stinkers

Potty humor, pratfalls as mischief-makers set sea lion free.
  • Review Date: January 13, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1998
  • Running Time: 78 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive messages

Advocates sensitivity and compassion for wild creatures, in this case a sea lion. There's value in teamwork.

Positive role models

All the grownups are one-dimensional and portrayed as bumbling, self-absorbed, or clueless. The kids are a stereotypically diverse mix of "fiesty girl," "the leader," "witty African-American," "asthmatic, but cute scared kid," and "problem-solver." The kids do work together with integrity to save an animal, defeat school bullies and an evil sea-lion-napper, and wreak havoc on the dim-witted school principal.

Violence & scariness

Clownish action from beginning to end. There are only two brief and perhaps disturbing scenes in which the villain tries to train a kidnapped sea lion by chaining him and using an electric prod. Otherwise there are no serious injuries and there is no actual suspense, just lots of slapstick action.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

Potty humor throughout includes: farting, mention of peeing and wetting pants, smelly poop references; characters get hit in the crotch numerous times; the seal lion accidentally eats an entire package of laxative after which the creature is seen on the toilet. Infrequent coarse language  including "hell," "pissant," "farthead," "crap."


Lots of products on display: Coca Cola, Morton Salt, Fizzie's, Sharper Image, Laidlaw buses, Johnson & Johnson, and Z LAX, Jr.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The sneering villain is a chain-smoker.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that slapstick action and potty humor are the main sources of comedy in this movie about setting an aquarium sea lion free. The adults are all buffoons, created to be laughed at by the kids in the movie and by the audience. There are pratfalls galore: characters tumble, are upended, punched, teased, doused in paint, bird poop, peanut butter, and vomit. There are farts, potty smells, references to peeing, and use of laxatives. Younger kids may be frightened when Slappy the sea lion is captured by villains, chained, and briefly buzzed with an electric prod, though he is never in real danger and never hurt. Two school bullies tease the five young heroes, but there's no actual threat there either. A few mild swear words are heard ("hell," "crap," "farthead"). It's generally preposterous silliness. One adult character smokes.

Kids say

Not yet rated
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What's the story?

Five best friends -- enthusiastic nonconformists all -- meet Slappy, The Sea Lion, on a field trip. The "Stinkers," as they are called by the private school's disaster-prone headmaster (B.D. Wong) think that Slappy is unhappy in his small aquarium habitat. Remembering Free Willy, the five troublemakers determine that they, too, can make a heroic rescue and return Slappy to the ocean. Unbeknownst to them, however, an evil sea-lion-napper has other plans for the affable mammal. He, too, intends to steal Slappy, train him to do tricks, and then sell him to a circus. The rescuers confront the 'napper and the chase is on.

Is it any good?


Silly, mindless, often crude fun for those who like their humor on the broad side: clueless adults who fall and get  banged up a lot, ridiculous pie-in-the-face villains, and oh-so-cutesy kids who grin a lot and utter sassy wisecracks on cue.

Combined with an abundance of fart and poop jokes, it's juvenile humor at best -- a time-waster with a few good laughs and an engaging sea lion.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the difference between make-believe live action, animated action, and real action. Are any of the crashes, falls, hits, in this movie meant to be taken seriously? How can you tell?

  • The Stinkers had no adults that could be counted upon to help them. Does that feel like a real situation? If you need help, who can you count on?

  • Slappy tells the kids that he is happiest in his home at the aquarium. There is controversy about whether or not to keep wild things in captivity for education and/or entertainment. What do you think? How could you find out more about this subject?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 23, 1998
DVD release date:January 4, 2005
Cast:B.D. Wong, Bronson Pinchot, Jennifer Coolidge
Director:Barnet Kellman
Studio:TriStar Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Friendship, Ocean creatures
Run time:78 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some crude behavior, mild language and slapstick violence

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 9 year old Written byMissECE October 28, 2012
age 6+

Poor Principle

It was a cute story but I felt bad for the principle always in the line of the stinkers trouble.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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