Wiener Dog Nationals

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Wiener Dog Nationals Movie Poster Image
Upbeat, quirky dog movie focuses on doing the right thing.
  • G
  • 2013
  • 82 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Wiener Dog Nationals offers positive messages about trust, family, moving on, and taking chances on new experiences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are largely realistic, but admirable. Parents and kids realistically struggle to do the right thing or put others before themselves, but ultimately make good choices. Minor characters tend toward simplistic depictions of good or bad.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

A couple hugs awkwardly once with romantic overtones.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wiener Dog Nationals portrays a single dad raising three children after the death of his wife. Though her loss is only discussed directly a few times, her absence and everyone missing her is a recurring theme. Also, kids looking for a movie with a lot of dog racing could be disappointed: Here, the majority of the plot centers around the events leading up to trying to get the dog into the big race.

What's the story?

When the Jack family decides to adopt a wiener dog, Shelly, brothers Skip (Austin Anderson) and Danny (Julian Feder), dad Phil (Jason London), and sister Bridget (Caitlin Carmichael) are shocked to learn she's a champion racing dog with a mysterious heritage. Now everyone is interested in seeing Shelly race, including the sinister Ms. Merryweather (Morgan Fairchild), whose intentions are less than noble. Soon Shelly lands a spot at the nationals, and now the Jack family must navigate a labyrinth of challenges to see Shelly compete for the big time, fair and square.

Is it any good?

WIENER DOG NATIONALS is better than it has any right to be, in part because the actors here have a natural ease with the material and each other. Plus, there are some refreshing portrayals of a single-parent family's struggles -- there isn't enough money to travel and the kids have a relatable ambivalence toward each other. Sometimes you leave your oldest in charge not because he's proven to be a great babysitter, but because he's oldest and you've gotta go to work. 

Young kids looking for lots of cute dog action may be frustrated for a bit -- they'll have to wait until the movie's third act to see any real action. Until then, it's a more relationship-driven movie about a family coming together that is likely to appeal to older kids. Parents who aren't concerned about the theme of parental loss will find an entertaining film with some funny but refreshingly direct material.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about competition. What does healthy competition mean? When does competition get out of hand? Have you ever competed in something and gotten carried away? What happened?

  • Cheating in sports is considered wrong, but also portrayed as commonplace. Why do you think people cheat in sports? Why is it important for people not to cheat at games?

  • The film centers around the issue of integrity. Do you know what it means to have integrity? Can you think of any examples of people having integrity from your own experiences?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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