Ugly Benny

Movie review by
Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media
Ugly Benny Movie Poster Image
Predictable animal caper has positive messages, hokey plot.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Meant to entertain, not educate.

Positive Messages

Everyone deserves a chance. Helping others is important.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Emma and Sam are kind, giving people who help anyone in need. Alex steals, but he does it for an unselfish reason and he learns from his mistakes.

Violence & Scariness

Someone almost gets hit by a car. Talk about a character losing her family in an accident.

Sexy Stuff

The prize for winning a bet is a kiss on the cheek. Emma and Sam hug and kiss. Some light flirting.

Language

Mild insults such as "brat," "old goat," and "twerp"; "darn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ugly Benny is a hokey animal tale featuring a cute dog. This squeaky-clean family film has a few mild insults such as "brat" and "twerp" and a few chaste kisses (mostly between a married couple). The film does feature a few mature themes such as poverty and unemployment, but they're only briefly introduced and in an age-appropriate way. The positive messages about helping others and giving everyone a second chance make this predictable animal caper slightly more tolerable.

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What's the story?

When opening up their pet shop one morning, Sam (Timothy Oman) and Emma (Karen Tarleton) find a small, homely puppy left in their store. Knowing there's more to this pup than meets the eye, Emma takes in Benny, who soon becomes the store's beloved mascot, despite Sam's opinion that he's ugly. With Benny's help, the pair go about their business, selling animals and pet food to their motley group of regulars in their small town -- until one day when a young boy named Alex (Diego Josef) runs in to hide after stealing a carton of milk. To save him from getting in trouble, Emma and Sam offer Alex a job in the pet store. Alex is a natural salesman, and everything seems just about perfect until Alex stops coming into the store. Now Emma and Sam will need Benny's help to find out how to help Alex and save the day.

Is it any good?

UGLY BENNY is hokey and predictable, with over-the-top acting, small-town clichés, and a pretty slow plot. But it's a sweet, inoffensive film that does have some charm. The characters all are likable -- albeit a bit one-dimensional -- and there are a lot of adorable animals to enjoy. But some kids might be bored with the thin, slow-moving plot that focuses a lot of its time on the day-to-day workings of the pet store.

Parents no doubt will love the clean plot and positive messages about helping others and supporting those in need. And animal lovers will find a lot to enjoy, even if they find the story to be lacking.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stealing. Why did Alex steal the milk? Did he have a good reason for it? Is it ever OK to steal?

  • Why do you think Emma and Sam chose to help Alex? Why do you think it's important to give people the benefit of the doubt?

  • We see a lot of different kinds of pets at the pet store. Do you have a pet? What kind of pet do you have? What kind of pet would you like to have?

Movie details

For kids who love pets

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