A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Treasure Hounds is a live-action movie, with a "talking" dog and cat. A young boy, with a ragtag team of young friends, searches for a treasure that may just be able to save an entire town. Along the way, they must outwit two buffoonish criminals who want the treasure for themselves. The movie relies upon, as so many of these boy-and-his-dog movies do, the ridiculous antics of the two criminals, one of whom is a silly German caricature. Plenty of slapstick action -- pratfalls, bumped heads, fruitless chases, and close calls. (Spoiler alert: The featured dog appears to be unconscious for a brief time, but quickly recovers.) Mildly offensive behavior and language includes: dogs sniffing butts, farts, and some insults ("nincompoop," "nerd," "airhead," "jerk," and more). The movie is low-budget, predictable, and very amateurish; kids might still enjoy the silliness and minimal suspense, but there are far better ways for them to spend their time.
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What's the story?
In TREASURE HOUNDS, Jack (Valin Shinyei) and his mom (Jesse Fraser) have inherited Grandpop's oddball, over-stuffed home in a small town. It isn't until they're in the house that Jack's mom reveals that they're staying, leaving their small urban apartment for some small town beauty and what she hopes will be a better life. Jack's upset at first, but inheriting Grandpop's dog, Skipper (voiced by Norm MacDonald), and meeting some interesting new kids piques his interest. When Jack discovers a clue left by his grandfather that sends him on a treasure hunt, things seem to be looking up. Unfortunately, neither Jack nor his new friends realize that two criminals are also after the treasure. The clues are hard to find; the inept villains are obstacles in their path; and sneaking around the town presents problems, too. Especially since their little city is in dire financial straits and badly needs a treasure to save it from extinction. Events escalate when Jack's mom finds out about their quest and the clues get them closer to a final confrontation with their enemies.
Is it any good?
This boy-and-talking-dog story is low-budget fare, with some artless performances and direction, bare-bones special effects, and just enough silliness to register a few laughs for some kids. This entry in the "good kid moves to new town and encounters bumbling criminals on the loose" genre is substandard, even for that film category. Still, the exaggerated, ridiculous villains, a dog obsessed with his acute sense of smell (including butts aplenty), and a competent performance by Valin Shinyei as Jack just may keep kids, through middle grades, in their seats for Treasure Hounds.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss the familiarity of this story and its characters. What story elements have you seen before? In what ways are the bad guys characters you've often seen in other movies? Does their incompetence and clumsiness make them more kid-friendly villains? What, if anything, is fresh or original about Treasure Hounds?
What does it mean when a movie is called "predictable"? When did you first realize how the story would go and how it would end? Do you mind watching a predictable story if the events that move it forward are interesting and special? Was this one of those films? Why or why not?
Find out the meaning of the terms "lowbrow" humor or "low comedy." Many of the laughs in this film rely on farts, name-calling, and a broad caricature of a German thief. Would you consider that "lowbrow" humor? What are your favorite lowbrow comedies?
- On DVD or streaming: August 15, 2017
- Cast: Valin Shinyei, Norm MacDonald, Jesse Fraser
- Director: Tim J. Brown
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor
- Last updated: January 8, 2021
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