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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie presents a family challenged by poverty and racism that nonetheless is bound together by love, resolute in their will to survive, and full of faith. The boy's determination to get an education is inspiring, particularly considering the obstacles in his path.
Violence & Scariness
Young boy is threatened by racist guards multiple times. A bull and a dog are both victims of human violence, but it takes place off-screen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Married couple kisses, are shown lying in bed together.
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True to the time and place in which is set, epitaphs that are unacceptable in modern language are used to underscore the racism of the community.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is not a dog movie, but rather a poignant tale of an African American family set in the Depression-era South. Sometimes violent acts of racism are portrayed, and a father steals food to feed his family and ends up in jail. Both the dog of the title and another animal are hurt by humans. Themes of faith and belief in times of trouble underscore a religious sensibility in the film. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In the hands of director Kevin Hooks, who played the boy in the 1972 film version, Armstrong's coming-of-age tale is treated with great care. Robertson captures the growing confidence of the boy as he pursues his difficult task, and the movie also features Paul Winfield, who played the father in the first film, as the boy's teacher. Suzzanne Douglas as the mother radiates faith, hope, and a backbone of steel in each scene.
The movie does a good job capturing the day-to-day worries of blacks in the South during the 1930s, and the inhumanity of the southern prison labor system. It also underscores the life-changing value of education, particularly for the disenfranchised. The suspense and pain caused by the father's imprisonment, as well as a protracted disappearance by the dog, would likely make this too intense for viewers younger than 12.
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Our Editors Recommend
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