A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wiener Dog Internationals is a sequel to 2013's Wiener Dog Nationals that moves the action to international wiener-dog racing, a weekend event that includes contestants from all over the world. The Jack family once again sets about entering their speedy dog Shelly (so named because she was adopted from a shel-ter) in a race they're sure she can win. This time, however, the two youngest Jack children have to conspire with their older brother to disobey their caring dad and sneak away to join the fun. Other than a prominent Wienerschnitzell fast food restaurant tie-in, there's nothing objectionable for kids here. However, fans of the first movie who enjoyed the sincere story of the Jack family amid the silliness may be disappointed in the bogus premise and farcical events -- that's all there is here.
What's the story?
Just when the WIENER DOG INTERNATIONALS race is coming up, Phil Jack (Jason London), father to Skip, Bridget, and Danny, has to take a trip to Europe to ask his sweetheart to marry him. It's the only chance he has. But though Bridget and Danny really want their dad to be happy, they also really don't want to miss the race in California. They're positive their beloved rescue dog Shelly can win. After all, Shelly won the nationals. And if they don't show up, the cheating Ms. Merryweather (Morgan Fairchild, returning as one of the villains) and her dachshund Princess will be entered in their place. They'll do anything to get to California. Once they enlist their older brother in a deception, the kids' odyssey finds them on their own in the presence of dog-nappers, mistaken identities (of dogs, that is), a vicious young Japanese contestant, and a conspiracy of cloning. When Phil finds out, flies home, and shows up at the wiener-dog race with the sheepish Skip in tow, the chaos accelerates even more than the little costumed dachshunds in the big race.
Is it any good?
Low-budget doesn't have to be lowbrow, but this sequel can't rise above the dopey plot, campy adult performances, and forced comic energy. Child actors Julian Feder as Danny and Caitlin Carmichael as Bridget do their best to bring a spark and some emotion to the proceedings, but they're defeated by the one-dimensional characterizations of everybody else. The realistic family portrayed in the original movie, which touched upon the emotional and economic struggles of a single-parent family, has been replaced by a dad who travels around the world at will, kids who engage in convoluted deceptions, and a story that relies on outlandish behavior from everyone involved. Seeing an array of adorable dachshunds in very funny international costumes run for the gold (about five minutes for a very short distance) and some mistaken-identity and dog-napping antics may provide kids with a few laughs, but it's a slim return on a 94-minute investment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Skip's decision to let Danny and Bridget go to the race. Did you agree with it? When a big brother (or sister) is in charge of younger siblings, what are his or her primary responsibilities? Other than Skip making his dad furious, what were the risks involved?
Most of the grown-ups in this story were comic devices, not real people -- they were clueless, irresponsible, or incompetent. Did you believe any of them? Do you think it's important, even in a comedy, for characters to have at least a hint of realness?
If you've seen the first movie, how did you feel about this one? Were you pleased or disappointed? If you were disappointed, what did you miss?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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