A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Three Dogateers (a loosely rooted parody of The Three Musketeers) stars talking dogs; their bumbling master; an exaggerated, villainous dog catcher; and other assorted dull-witted criminals. Frequent cartoon action and mild suspense, all slapstick, includes crashes, chases, falls, and hits with shovels. Only the very youngest or most sensitive kids might have difficulty when the dogs are in "danger": stuffed into a burlap bag, captured, and caged. Laughs also come via farts, burps, and talk about body odor and bad breath; "pee" and "dog butt" are used in conversation. Several scenes include brief comments about whether or not there is a Santa Claus. Stereotyping includes a Germanic bad guy, a snooty purebred dog, and a stoic Japanese businessman.
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What's the story?
It's almost Christmas in THE THREE DOGATEERS. Arfamis, a Spanish-accented mutt with a romantic, swashbuckling streak (voiced by director Jesse Baget); Barkos, a Southern dog obsessed with food (also voiced by Baget); and Wagos, an aristocratic, girly-girl purebred (voiced by Danielle Judovits) are upset when their clownish owner (Dean Cain) is suddenly called away on business -- and he forgets to leave them food. Just when it seems things couldn't get worse, robbers break into the house and steal all the Christmas presents, even the tree! Arfamis, the leader of the trio, presses them into action, and the Dogateers are off to save the day. What follows is a series of adventures and misadventures as they track the goodies and outwit the burglars, only to be faced with an unrelenting dogcatcher who'll stop at nothing to trap them. These doggies are resourceful, however. They guess that their only hope is to find Santa Claus (whom they're pretty sure lives in The Mall). The quest is on.
Is it any good?
Another in the "let's save Christmas" pantheon, this film has plenty of feather-brained, over-the-top villains and slapstick action. Stereotypes abound; discussions about body odor and farts announce a reliance on easy and expected laughs. The film invests a lot of screen time on dogs frolicking, dogs running through the desert, and a dog driving a car while on the run. Other than Santa Claus, there's nary a human in the story that rises above the lowest level of goofy humor. The only thing that rescues this amateurish effort is Arfamis, the mixed-breed leader of the Dogateers, whose "I live for valor!" mantra and romantic flights of fancy are inspired. Still, most kids will laugh -- that's guaranteed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some elements of movie comedy. What's so funny about farts and burps? Which do you like more, silly villains or scary villains? Why?
Describe the two very different outlooks on life that are expressed by Arfamis and Wagos. Which outlook is most like your own? Do you think a balance between the two is a good idea?
What is a "stereotype"? Which of the characters in this film are stereotypes?
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