Soccer Dog: European Cup

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Soccer Dog: European Cup Movie Poster Image
Odd father-son comedy has cute dog, mature themes.
  • PG
  • 2000
  • 88 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Taking care of others is important. Sometimes you have to sacrifice what you want most to do the right thing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bryan gave up his dream job on a professional soccer team when he found out his mother had a terminal illness and needed his help. When he learns he has a son, he does his best to be responsible and take care of the boy.

Violence & Scariness

A cliché evil scientist performs experiments on animals, although none is seen. He trains a small dog to viciously attack, and when she bites a man's arm offscreen, we see the rest of the man's body comically writhing in pain. The dog is kidnapped but returned safely. Rival soccer team members get into a punching brawl. A head-butt. Some young bullies are mean to Zach.

Sexy Stuff

Bryan has a son that he didn't know he had, which was the result of a past relationship.


"Marble-mouth," "doo-doo," "Yank," "coward," "dung-smelling." An adult begins to say "s--t" but stops himself and says "stuff" instead. Someone on television seems to be saying "f--k," but the sound is blocked and the word "censored" is stamped over his face. An off-color astronomy joke references the word "Uranus."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol socially. Scenes at a bar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Soccer Dog: European Cup is a 2005 comedy that briefly touches on three sensitive issues: scientific animal testing, the death of a 13-year-old's unmarried mother, and the fact that she never informed his father of the boy's birth. The plot focuses on belated father-son bonding. An adorable, highly intelligent, soccer-playing dog brings them together. Some action takes place in a Scottish pub. Two soccer teams get into a brawl. A dog is kidnapped but safely returned. Brief instances of "s--t" and "f--k" are hinted at but censored; language includes "marble-mouth," "doo-doo," "Yank," "coward," and "dung-smelling." Scottish accents may make it difficult for some kids to understand the dialogue.

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What's the story?

SOCCER DOG: EUROPEAN CUP follows an American boy called Zach who has just lost his mother. He arrives in a village in Scotland, where his Scottish father, Bryan, is said to live. Bryan is shocked to learn that a relationship of 12 years ago resulted in a child, and he takes Zach in. Having given up a career in professional soccer to care for his sick mother, he now runs a losing amateur team and his own little village pub. Zach finds a fluffy stray dog, escaped from the anima- testing lab, with amazing intelligence and soccer aptitude. Soon he and Brian are preparing the dog and the team to play a Cup-winning London team in a highly publicized fundraiser for animals.   

Is it any good?

While kids who love dogs and soccer may be happy to spend 88 minutes with this odd tale, parents may scratch their heads at the lack of logic and credibility. It's implausible that an American lawyer would travel from the U.S. to deliver a young boy to his father without first contacting the father to let him know that he even has a son. The evil scientist roaming the countryside, cackling and plotting to find his super-intelligent soccer dog never mentions what he needs the dog for, so the tension associated with this weak subplot is minimal. To snag his missing dog, he trains a fluffy little female to be vicious, which leaves the audience wondering why he would want to find his stray dog and then have it mauled.

Still, kids will laugh at the goofy antics of the soccer team and enjoy the scenes with the dog. They may not be able to understand the Scottish accents and haggis references, but they'll still have fun even if their parents are cringing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how difficult it would be to lose a parent and then have to move to another country to find family and start a new life. How would you cope with that situation?

  • If your sick mom needed your care, would you give up your dream job?

  • The dog here is pretty talented. Do you think any dogs are really trained to use human bathrooms? What would you train a super-smart dog to do?

  • How is this movie similar to other dog movies you've seen? How is it different? Why do you think dog movies are so popular?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

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