The Biscuit Eater

Movie review by
Tracey Petherick, Common Sense Media
The Biscuit Eater Movie Poster Image
Touching family drama about friendship and chasing dreams.
  • G
  • 1972
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Lots of positive messages and valuable lessons throughout, including: the importance of honesty, friendship, and fair play; having the confidence to dream big and then work together to achieve those dreams; supporting your friends and family; and having faith in yourself and those around you. The warm and comfortable relationships between black and white characters shows a level of racial harmony that may be unrealistic for the time but is also touching and optimistic. Compassion is shown toward a dog.

Positive Role Models

The boys Lonnie and Text are cheerful and caring, confident but diplomatic, resourceful and determined. They both come from warm, loving families with parents who are just, fair, and supportive. Wealthy kennel owner Mr. Ames is kind and generous while the gas station clerk Willie is a lovable rogue, always chancing his luck but in the most charming way. The two moms are strong role models, displaying good sense, confidence, and independence. It's just a shame there aren't more female characters. Some racial stereotyping with the staff at a club all being black and another black character quoting from the Bible. But the film also celebrates diversity, with characters ignoring racial differences.

Violence

Several instances of humans threatening dogs, verbally or physically with a stick or shotgun. A character gives a dog poisoned eggs causing them to become very ill, but they survive. Characters argue and threaten each other. A fist fight between two characters is quite aggressive but becomes more slapstick. Both have bloody noses. Multiple hunt scenes in which birds are shot and the dogs retrieve them. Dead birds are shown, but with no blood. Kids are shown carrying and shooting guns.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several characters drink alcohol together at their clubhouse. None are shown behaving drunkenly. One character smokes cigars and frequently has one clamped between his teeth.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Biscuit Eater is a touching Disney family drama from 1972 about two friends who adopt a feral dog, with plenty of positive messages and likable, wholesome characters. It focuses on friendship and teamwork with valuable lessons around honesty, fair play, and the joy of dreaming big. The story of two boys -- Lonnie (Johnny Whitaker) and Text (George Spell) -- who put their faith in an "untrainable" gun dog, includes some violence with characters shooting birds, one fist fight, and one scene in which a dog is poisoned, but survives. Some racial stereotyping includes black servants at the Gun Dog Club and a black character quoting from the Bible. But with a strong friendship between the boys and harmonious relationships among the adults, there remains a sense of racial equality. Willie (Godfrey Cambridge) is regularly seen with a cigar between his teeth and there is some drinking of alcohol, although never to excess. The movie is a remake of a popular 1940 film of the same name.

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What's the story?

Set in 1940s Tennessee, THE BISCUIT EATER follows the story of two friends, Lonnie (Johnny Whitaker) and Text (George Spell), who vow to train up a supposedly "untrainable" dog named Moreover. Bred as a gun dog, to help hunters in finding and retrieving birds, Moreover has been written off as a "biscuit eater" -- meaning he'd rather eat biscuits (or, worse, suck eggs) than bother with training. Determined to prove everyone wrong, the boys persevere with Moreover and enter him into the state Field Trial Championships. But they're up against Lonnie's dad Harve (Earl Holliman) and his prize-winning dog Silver Belle. Will Moreover have what it takes to win? And even if he does, can Lonnie and Text protect their beloved dog from the wicked local farmer?

Is it any good?

This Disney remake of a popular 1940 original is a heartwarming take on the good old-fashioned "one boy and his dog" genre. Full of charming characters displaying warmth, kindness, and strong moral compasses it runs the risk of being twee and outdated but -- despite the 1970s production standards -- it actually shines. When the phrase "Ain't nothin' but a suck-egg biscuit eater" feels like the most shocking of insults -- and it's directed at a dog -- you know you're in for a family-friendly experience. 

The cast -- both adults and kids -- has a pleasing chemistry, with plenty of moments that will make you smile, and there's just enough peril and anticipation to keep you keen. There's no denying this is a gentle offering from a simpler time, but what this story lacks in high-octane action, it makes up for with its big heart. Plus, by not even acknowledging the characters' racial differences, The Biscuit Eater largely depicts a harmonious, inclusive community. And while this may be a naive and unrealistic portrayal of the 1940s Tennessee setting, it is nevertheless cause for optimism amid a touching tale.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the uplifting tone and positive messages in The Biscuit Eater. Do you enjoy movies that feature sweet relationships with no trauma or tragedies? Or do you prefer the excitement of fast-paced action and peril?

  • Discuss the hunting scenes in the movie. How did they make you feel? Why do some people hunt? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?

  • In what ways are Lonnie and Text good role models? Talk about the qualities they both possess, like loyalty, kindness, and perseverance. Why are these good character strengths to have?

  • Talk about the mix of black and white characters in the movie. Why is it notable that the characters all get along, without racial tension or prejudices getting in the way? Do you think this was a realistic portrayal for the time period? How did it make you feel?

Movie details

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