A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that StarDog and TurboCat is an animated kids' movie about a superhero dog and cat who must learn to work together. There's lots of slapstick violence: Characters are electrocuted and hit with objects, and there are two car crashes, etc. It's all quite cartoonish in tone. Felix/TurboCat (voiced by Luke Evans) frequently uses insults like "idiot," "stupid," and "moron," and characters are often hostile to each other. When TurboCat hears mention of catnip, he goes into a temporary drugged-like state with psychedelic-style effects. Some of the comedy is based on references to other movies and internet memes. Themes include teamwork and overcoming prejudice.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In STARDOG AND TURBOCAT, dog Buddy (voiced by Nick Frost) is launched into space during a 1966 shuttle test. When his shuttle crashes back to Earth 50 years later, he discovers a world in which people have turned against animals. He soon meets Felix/TurboCat (voiced by Luke Evans), an arrogant outlaw superhero modeled on Batman. Buddy learns that he, too, has superpowers. But in contrast to TurboCat, Buddy still believes humans are good and tries to find his former owner. Together, dog and cat eventually learn to work together as they navigate their way through a world that's become alien to Buddy.
Is it any good?
Besides Buddy, most of the characters here are irate and hostile, and they don't make for enjoyable company. The slapstick violence is delivered without the wit required to make it fun. In comparison with highly polished and well-plotted animated adventures from the likes of Disney and Pixar, StarDog and TurboCat feels flat and lifeless, with most scenes set against static backgrounds and empty streets. The production values make it feel more like a TV show (a la Paw Patrol) than a feature film.
The story also lacks development, with no explanation given for the reason that people and animals had their falling out. This lack of depth makes the plot twist feel unearned. The movie is a British production, but the British lead actors -- Gemma Arterton also stars -- perform with American accents, and Frost's effort in particular lacks conviction. StarDog and TurboCat isn't much more than a functional, basic mismatched-buddy movie, and it can't stand up against the quality output from the major players. It lacks the spark, atmosphere, and laughs to make it a compelling kids' movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between Buddy and Felix in StarDog and TurboCat. How does it challenge the stereotype of dogs and cats not getting along? How can we apply those messages to human society?
Many of the characters bicker, even when they're friends. How could they communicate better with each other?
Buddy and his owner's bond lasts for years. Why do you think dogs and humans can have such good relationships?
- In theaters: December 6, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: June 19, 2020
- Cast: Luke Evans, Nick Frost, Gemma Arterton
- Director: Ben Smith
- Studio: Kaleidoscope Film Distribution
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Superheroes, Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: rude material/language and some mild action
- Last updated: June 15, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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