A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Think Like a Dog is a live-action comedy about Oliver (Gabriel Bateman), an enterprising boy who loves science, and his happy "talking" dog. When an experiment misfires, both boy and dog are amazed to discover that they can read each other's thoughts. The heroic team is soon drawn into a conflict that pits them against a villainous cyberworld bigshot and two government agents. Mild action sequences include the science experiment gone wrong (electrical charges and hurtling about), a chase, an abduction, and a punch in the face. Oliver also gets harassed and embarrassed by the school bully. Potty humor ("drop a payload," "I can pee anywhere I want," "smelly butts") and dog farts are frequent, mostly with colorful narration from the animal himself. Mild swearing includes "crap," "fartface," and "grow a pair."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THINK LIKE A DOG, Oliver (Gabriel Bateman) is a very bright kid obsessed with two things: scientific experimentation and his exuberant dog, Henry (voiced by Todd Stashwick). Loved by his supportive parents, Lucas (Josh Duhamel) and Ellen (Megan Fox), Oliver is basically a happy but slightly insecure kid. However, when a mind-reading project he's created for his school's science fair flops, courtesy of a jealous bully, Oliver is miserable -- especially because he failed in front of Sophie (Madison Horcher), the girl he really, really likes. But Oliver doesn't give up. On a second effort, one he makes with input from his enthusiastic Chinese pen pal (Minghao Hou), Oliver's experiment goes haywire again, but this time the results are astounding: Oliver can read Henry's mind! Hearing about Oliver's amazing feat, the world's most famous cybertycoon (Kunal Nayyar) approaches Oliver and Henry, and an unexpected adventure begins.
Is it any good?
With strong performances, an earnest, beguiling young hero, and solid production values, this film is a cut above the usual low-budget, talking dog efforts. What's more, the filmmakers have opted not to hire the standard "celebrity comic" to phone in a lackluster canine performance. Instead, Todd Stashwick as Henry is delightfully sassy at times and always engaging. The addition of two parents on the brink of a separation adds a bit of emotional heft to Oliver's otherwise zany journey. For the right age viewer, Think Like a Dog is likely to have lots of appeal.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why kids enjoy potty jokes. What makes this humor so funny? Is it embarrassment? Do you imagine how you'd feel in similar circumstances? When are certain kinds of jokes appropriate -- and when aren't they? How does your family feel about potty humor?
How does Henry the dog explain the title phrase of Think Like a Dog? What is his "secret" to being happy? Why does Henry believe that "simpler is better"? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
Find out the meaning of the word "anthropomorphism." In what ways is this movie an example of anthropomorphism? Create a written portrait of a human-like pet that you might like to have as a best friend.
- On DVD or streaming: June 9, 2020
- Cast: Gabriel Bateman, Josh Duhamel, Megan Fox
- Director: Gil Junger
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Science and Nature
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: rude and suggestive material
- Last updated: February 13, 2021
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