The Gold Retrievers

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Gold Retrievers Movie Poster Image
Kids might enjoy the silly humor, but it's pretty charmless.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 88 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

References to the Conquistadores, early adventurers from Spain and Portugal who attempted to conquer the Americas. Paintings depicting the era enrich the description.

Positive Messages

Persistence and teamwork reap rewards in spite of the fact that things aren't always fair. A dad suggests that "you can't dwell on those things you can't control." The movie also dramatizes the negative effect that huge retail stores can have on small-town businesses and the people who depend upon them for their livelihood.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The young heroes disobey their parents, but have good intentions. The plot depends upon stereotypically bumbling villains, clueless law enforcement, and tween bullies, lead by a "mean girl." Parents are sometimes slow to respond, but well-meaning. The film lacks adult women characters (no moms) and ethnic diversity.

Violence & Scariness

Several mildly scary moments: one shot of a ferocious bear that's meant to be threatening; numerous skeletons pop up or are discovered; arrows shoot across the screen; animal traps are sprung on unsuspecting characters; and the heroes hang precariously over a ledge. The villains, accompanied by cartoony music, are inept, clueless, and accident-prone; they fall, are hit by rocks, caught in traps, get into fights (including sword play) and capture the heroes for a brief time. No one is injured or killed. The hero's dog gets lost, but is found without much suspense or difficulty.

Sexy Stuff
Language

Infrequent insults: "loser," "moron," "numbskull."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Gold Retrievers is a relatively harmless adventure about a boy and a girl searching for long-lost treasure. The misleading DVD cover shows a cuddly puppy, but it's not a dog story. There are a few moments that might be scary for very young viewers: dusty skeletons startling the treasure hunters, a brief shot of a vicious bear primed to attack, and bumbling thieves who chase and haplessly fight with the heroes. The comic nature of the villains keeps them from being truly threatening and no one is hurt or killed. One baddie continually insults the other, calling him "moron," "numbskull," "loser," etc. 

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What's the story?

Hard times are coming to Josh's home town. UltraMart (a Walmart-like enterprise) threatens his dad's business; money is tight; their home must be sold and the family will be forced to move in with his grandmother where no dogs are allowed. That means Josh (Noah Centineo) will have to give away his precious Bosco, a bright Labrador retriever. The boy vows to search the nearby hills for a legendary treasure buried by Conquistadores centuries earlier and thereby save the day for his family. In the woods, Josh comes upon Ana (Courtney Biggs), a girl his age who is new to the community. Ana is running away, hoping to make her way back to her old home. As Josh and Ana form a bond, she decides to join the treasure hunt. A series of adventures and misadventures follow as the well-meaning kids are stalked and chased by two loud, bungling crooks who also seek the fortune.

Is it any good?

It's a fair bet that lots of kids will like this movie. It's meant to appeal to youngsters who like to laugh at silly bad guys falling down, stepping into traps, calling each other names, and behaving moronically. (Steve Guttenberg and Curtis Armstrong couldn't get any broader or more ridiculous.) And the prospect of children finding a treasure and saving the family is always fun.

Despite that, it's hard to recommend this amateurish effort. The film has one-dimensional characters, a sketchy plot, and is missing three basic elements that make a family movie successful -- logic, wit, and charm.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how change affects kids and families. Have you experienced big changes in your life? What do you think helps make transitions less stressful? Do you think the characters here react realistically to change?

  • Who is the audience for this movie? What would have made it a better movie?

  • Josh was faced with some very mean bullies. What do you do if you are faced with kids like that? Who do you turn to for help?

  • Josh and Ana were both looked upon as outsiders at the beginning of this story. Do you think their friendship changed that for them? What are some of the qualities that make a good friend?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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