White Fang



Exciting tale set in gold-rush Alaska.
  • Review Date: June 20, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1991
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Reference to social exclusion of Native Americans. Characters are self-reliant and trustworthy, bad guys steal from newcomers and cheat.


Violence includes dog fights, gun fight, house set on fire, implied death of a character, bear attack, wolf cub's mother is shot.


Very subtle reference to prostitution, a (unmarried) couple kiss.


Brief profanity, name calling.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Barroom drinking, tobacco smoking, bad guys drink to excess.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has mature themes, such as the mistreatment of the Native American tribes by the miners, betting on dog fights, and the harshness of life in the mountains. There's a scene where wolves surround a camp and a character (off-screen) is killed while trying to protect his dog pack. A wolf is shot and crawls back to die in front of her young pup. A corpse is ejected from its coffin, characters treat an animal cruelly to make it fight, a bear chases a man but is scared away by a wolf, a character refers to the death of his parents. There's a shoot-out with no deaths but plenty of menace and a mining cave-in that threatens a character.

What's the story?

Jack Conroy (Ethan Hawke) is in Alaska to follow in his recently deceased father's footsteps in mining for gold in the breathtaking mountains surrounding Klondike. To get to his claim, however, he discovers he cannot survive alone and first follows then relies upon Alex Larson (Klaus Maria Brandauer), an experienced but gruff miner who knew Jack's father. Alex becomes a fatherly figure for Jack and introduces him to the frontier life of self-reliance and hard work. Meanwhile, White Fang (so named because of his white teeth, the result of being both dog and wolf) grows from puppy to adulthood, raised first by a Native American and then by immoral men who enter him in dog fights, until he finally finds a home with Jack.

Is it any good?


Jack London fans should forgive Disney for changing the main character of his story, White Fang from the titular, mistreated wolf-dog to a recently orphaned young man. Jack pursues adventures that parallel those of the young pup, White Fang, until at last the two become fast friends. The result here is a beautifully shot, evocative adventure movie that rises above several two-dimensional "bad guy" characters, an out-of-place musical score, and the occasionally wooden dialogue.

This movie is not for younger kids due to violence, language and more mature themes; however, older kids will enjoy the adventure, and parents will appreciate the scenery and the performance given by Klaus Maria Brandauer.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the frontier life-style and how Jack finds a sense of place in a location that many would find inhospitable. The characters represent a wide spectrum of approaches from the men who steal to those who look out for one another. Families may want to talk about the character of Alex and why he does not seem friendly but how his commitment to keeping promises distinguishes him as someone Jack can rely upon. How are White Fang's and Jack's lives touched by other people and what impact does this have on how they act?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 18, 1991
DVD release date:April 2, 2002
Cast:Ethan Hawke, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Seymour Cassel
Director:Randal Kleiser
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Wild animals
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mature themes

This review of White Fang was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Coming-of-age tale for older kids and teens.
  • Inspiring story about brave sled dogs.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 9 year old Written byCBeth March 12, 2011

adventure, action and history

A good adventure movie with real characters (people and animals), as well as a bit about the hardships of life for those seeking gold and fortune on the frontiers. There is some information before and after the movie from the Humane Society about wolves, which proved an interesting topic and learning opportunity for my son. It's a great action/adventure story that is more substantive than much of the current fare. Although a bit simplistic, the message about a young man caring about the fate of a wild animal is a nice one.
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 11 years old April 16, 2010

All time favorite movie

White Fang is my all time favorite MOVIE! I've always been fasinated by wolves and animals and i thought the story was great! However, in the beginning it might alittle too scary for kids 9 and under.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old January 21, 2010

Good Movie!

A good movie, DEFINITELY better than the book, which is TERRIBLY boring! I watched it first at age 9, it was good!
What other families should know
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Special Needs Guide