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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Belka and Strelka were inspired by their-real life counterparts from Russia's space program in the 1960s. Some space travel terminology is included, as is the fact that Cuba is portrayed as Russia's ally and a location of a Russian embassy. Some Russian locations and historical figures are mentioned, including Gorky Park, Marx and Engels, and Anton Chekhov.
Positive themes of courage, teamwork, friendship, family, as well as importance of helping others and acting selflessly. Forgiveness is also encouraged, particularly at end of movie.
Positive Role Models
Both Belka and Strelka have strong personalities, can hold their own against various antagonists. They get in trouble with their superiors but admit their decisions to disobey the rules, taking responsibility for their actions. Their friend Lenny is brave, quick-witted, loyal to his friends. Uncle Jonas is outgoing, funny, kind.
Violence & Scariness
Moments of peril throughout, including potentially frightening opening sequence in which the dogs face alien ice creatures that chase after them and spew icicles at them. A group of hardened parrots tries to rob two characters, ends up grabbing them and flying off; the two characters get away with a friend's help. Jellyfish pirates take Belka and Strelka hostage, threaten to throw them and their friend overboard. A fight on the ship ensues. Aliens threaten to take all of Earth's water. One character points a weapon at another.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirting between two characters who dance and hold hands.
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Occasional insults like "shut up," "scallywag," "idiot," "Mata Hari," "scoundrel," and "don't be stupid," and threats like "Send them to the bottom to feed the crabs."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A scene takes place at a bar where drinks are stacked behind the characters.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Space Dogs: Tropical Adventure is the third movie in the Space Dogs series, Russian animated films about the (fictional) missions of Belka and Strelka, the Soviet Union's first dogs to survive space travel. This time around, Belka (voiced by Maria Antonieta Monge) and Strelka (Mauriett Chayeb) are assigned to investigate a dangerous whirlpool in the Atlantic Ocean right next to Cuba, but multiple obstacles (including jellyfish pirates) get in their way. There are some potentially frightening moments of peril, but no one is actually hurt: They're just put in scary situations, like being taken hostage and being threatened with a weapon. Occasional insult language includes "idiot," "shut up," and "stupid," and there's a mild "love at first sight" romance between two supporting characters. Observant young viewers may have questions about the history of space dogs, Soviet Russia, and Cuba. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With a lackluster story, songs that don't quite hit the mark, and an underwhelming voice cast, this third Space Dogs movie isn't going to entertain audiences like the first two. While the previous films used well-known actors like Chloe Grace Moretz, Ashlee Simpson, and Alicia Silverstone for their English dubs, this one doesn't boast any recognizable voices. Kids may not notice that, but there are also moments when the translation doesn't match up precisely with the characters' expressions or gestures, and, even when it does, it's not always engaging. But the dialogue is preferable to the songs, considering that the voice actors don't sound like professional singers. The alien's rap song in particular is outright cringeworthy, but the jellyfish pirates should elicit a few laughs from younger audiences. Now that the series' storylines are completely based in fantasy, there's not as much history involved -- although this might be the only children's movie in which American kids will hear lines like "we go together like Marx and Engels" or see a giant seal with Soviet tattoos like "CCCP," red stars, and the iconic hammer and sickle.
This is an example of a family-friendly series that has pretty much outlasted its entertainment value, but there's no denying that little kids love talking animals. It almost doesn't matter what context those animals appear in -- and here there are so many to choose from, even beyond the two space dogs. Lenny the rat and his pal the adorable cockroach will likely be favorites, although kids (and parents) might be confused about what kind of curvy rodent Lenny's love interest is, not that it matters much to the story. The gang-like parrots might scare some young viewers. And as for the aliens, well, one looks like a porcupine crossed with an elephant, and the other looks more like a humanoid alien. At least they aren't scary. If your kids have seen the first two Space Dogs movies and are eager for more Belka and Strelka, this could be a serviceable pick, but unless they're already fans, it's not a must-see.
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.