The Dogfather

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Dogfather Movie Poster Image
Iffy humor and stereotyping in slapstick dog movie.
  • PG
  • 2011
  • 88 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Too silly and slapstick to offer any positive messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Josh is a smart, kind boy who wants to be like any other kid, in spite of his heart condition that prevents him from engaging in too much physical exercise.


Slapstick/physical comedy. A dog bites a man in the groin area. A girl kicks a man in the crotch. While in pursuit of a runaway dog, a man steps on a rake, causing the handle to hit him in the face. Another man in pursuit of the dog runs into a tree. A father continually falls to the floor and ground, and is often knocked over while trying to take care of an adopted dog. Kids engage in pretend war activities while shooting Nerf guns at each other, later mimicking the action of a gun battle when they take on the bad guys. A father jumps in the line of fire of a Nerf gun fired by a bad guy, mimicking the action of "taking a bullet" for his son and dog.


Nerf guns are featured prominently, as kids are shown staging fake battles with them and having fun.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dogfather is a 2010 movie full of pratfalls and potty humor. The portrayals of Mafia guys veer dangerously close to stereotyping of Italian-Americans. Kids in the movie stage fake battles with Nerf guns, and in one scene, they attack bad guys while copying the behavior of war scenes, culminating in a father pretending to "take a bullet" for his son and dog when one of the bad guys shoots a giant Nerf gun at them.

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What's the story?

Don Tazio (Gerry Mendicino) wants to celebrate becoming a "made" man in the Mafia, but when his bulldog Sonny ends up swallowing his pinky ring and then escapes, the party is over. Don Tazio sends his bumbling underlings to try and find Sonny and return his ring, but Sonny has other ideas. He arrives in the front yard of the Franks family, where 12-year-old Josh (William Cuddy) sees him for the first time. But then the dog catchers take Sonny to the pound, and the Franks family decides to adopt Sonny, even though the father, Brian (Chris Parnell), isn't completely sold on the idea. While the Franks' try to prevent the rambunctious Sonny from wreaking havoc through their house, they must also prevent Don Tazio's underlings from retaking Sonny and returning him to their "godfather."

Is it any good?

Fans of Beethoven and its sequels will enjoy this slapstick dog comedy. It, too, finds much of its humor in rambunctious dog chases, constant pratfalls, and the less savory aspects of house-training a dog. The problem is that while there's a lot of goofiness to go around, it isn't enough to overcome the trite storyline and the attempts at parodying Mafia characters that veer a little too close to stereotyping Italian-Americans as a whole.

Not even the talents of Chris Parnell, and the cuteness of Sonny the bulldog can get past these shortcomings. Furthermore, for parents trying to get their families away from gun culture in all its forms, this movie instead shows kids having a lot of fun with Nerf guns while staging pretend battles and attacks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about comedy movies with dogs. What similarities and differences do you see with this comedy and others where dogs are front-and-center in the humor?

  • What are your thoughts on the way the Mafia guys are portrayed in this movie? Is it a parody of characters in mafia movies and TV shows, or does it veer into negative stereotyping of Italian-Americans?

  • Talk about the responsibilities required to care for a dog adopted from a shelter.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

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