Who Gets the Dog?

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Who Gets the Dog? Movie Poster Image
Predictable romcom has some mild cursing, drug reference.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Sometimes you do everything right but you still lose, or things go wrong. That doesn't change who you are; you just have to try again. "Even monkeys fall from trees." A pet shouldn't be treated like property. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Clay and Olive are devoted to their dog, Wesley. But Olive's too stubborn and Clay's too immature for them to be able to compromise. They both make mistakes, and Clay especially provides good examples for how to fix them. Clay and Olive each have loyal supportive friends. Clay and his friend Rhett are good mentors to Rhett's nephew, Koji. No real villains, but romantic rival Glenn is unlikeable and doesn't treat people, even Olive, very well.


Two men fight with pushing and wrestling on the ground, and one punch not clearly seen. No one's hurt. A kid tackles a grownup and knocks him to the ground. Clay and Koji vent their anger by throwing things around a locker room and punching a garbage can, then agree to clean up the mess. Mild scariness from a mean-looking dog with a metal muzzle, and from a pet in peril after it runs away. A scary man threatens with a crowbar, but the conflict is resolved without violence. Reference to living in a serial-killer shack.


A few brief kisses and flirting. Some sexual innuendo about getting handcuffs, and remembering the past when "I couldn't wait to get you in the bedroom." Olive takes off her shirt and is briefly seen from behind in a bra from the waist up.


"Ass," "poo," "peeing," "dropping a dump," "rectum," a man calls himself "butthead," and "Chopper, sic balls." Fictional social media for dogs has the hash tag "#chasingbitches."


A Chicago Wolves hockey game at their home arena, some Wolves merchandise and clothing. David sunflower seeds. A kid's hockey team sponsored by Papa John's.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Clay drinks beer several times, including pouring many cans into a blender pitcher when he's upset. Adults drink wine once. Brief reference to crack.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Who Gets the Dog? is a romantic comedy about a couple going through divorce. They each want custody of their dog and end up going to court because they can't compromise. Strong language is rare and mostly about bodily functions, but there is one "ass." Sexy stuff is also mild, with a few kisses, some flirting, and some innuendo about getting into the bedroom. One character drinks beer several times, including once when he's upset, but he pulls himself out of it. There's a brief mention of crack (cocaine). Mild violence and scariness include a fight that's mostly wrestling on the ground, and mild peril when a pet runs away. Positive messages reinforce trying again when things don't turn out the way you wanted, and emphasize that pets shouldn't be treated like property.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJames12267 April 1, 2020

Who gets the dog

I think this movie is something that is a family movie but also has a few references that may be above some children's but I think this is a movie at the f... Continue reading
Adult Written byDevesh G. July 27, 2019
Teen, 14 years old Written byAlesia R. September 4, 2017


I fell asleep midway the movie so you may see how it went

What's the story?

Olive (Alicia Silverstone) and Clay (Ryan Kwanten) must decide WHO GETS THE DOG? when their marriage comes to an end. The only trouble is, each one thinks they're the best parent for their lovable pet, Wesley. When the court grants custody to Olive, Clay tries to prove that he's the best dad for his dog. Will they learn that Wesley needs his dad and his mom, too?

Is it any good?

Good intentions, a solid cast, and an adorable dog aren't quite enough to make this predictable romantic comedy stand out from the crowd. Who Gets the Dog? has its heart in the right place, and it’s a pretty safe, mildly entertaining choice for family viewing. The actors didn't seem to bring their A game to the project, though, so it lacks any kind of real spark, chemistry, or genuine laughs. Doggy shenanigans are few and far between, too, making it unlikely to hold little kids' interest for very long.

It's not a top-tier romcom, and not a hilarious family dog movie, but just a little bit of both. It's one of those movies that just kind of gets lost in the middle somewhere.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Who Gets the Dog? shows divorce. Have you, or someone you know, been through it? Does the movie seem realistic?

  • Clay gets to play for an NHL hockey team. Is hockey popular in your area? What do you think being a pro is really like? Does Clay's life seem realistic?

  • How could Olive and Clay have avoided going to court? When you have to share something, how do you decide what's fair?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romcoms

Themes & Topics

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