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The Shaggy Dog (1959)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that even kids who balk at black-and-white movies and hokey special effects will find lots of laughs in this well-behaved and housebroken comedy. It's occasionally too slow for 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds, but they'll laugh at the dog's antics. Older kids can follow all the plot threads easily, and will giggle at the slapstick humor. Teens will enjoy if they give it a chance.
What's the story?
Disney's first live-action comedy follows the hairy adventures of young Wilby (Tommy Kirk), who stumbles upon an enchanted ring with an inscription. When Wilby reads the inscription, he turns into a large shaggy dog and the only way he can put a stop to the uncontrollable canine transformations is to do a good deed. But Wilby faces a major problem in the form of two Soviet spies, and things really get complicated when he accidentally sets off a rocket in the basement. Like any good Disney feature, there is plenty of comic misunderstanding and wild Keystone Cop-like chases.
Is it any good?
Although the pace lags at times, THE SHAGGY DOG remains entertaining. Fine performances by several of the Mouseketeers and Fred McMurray as a dog-phobic father will charm school-age kids and their nostalgic parents. The movie offers a fascinating peek at how 1950s Americans saw the world.
Eleven- and 7-year-old viewers were almost equally amused by The Shaggy Dog, though both grew restless at times as the many plot-wheels gradually meshed. But Wilby's antics as Chiffon, the "Bratislavian Sheepdog," will genuinely entertain young viewers. Parents can have little objection to this well-behaved, clean-cut feature.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idealized 1950s --- a world deep in the Cold War, and completely unaware that the role of women was about to change dramatically. This film is a fun way to bring up the way women's roles have changed over time. Families can also talk about what they think women's roles will be like 50 years from now, compared to how they were almost 50 years ago when this film was produced.
For kids who love animals
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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.