You Lucky Dog

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
You Lucky Dog Movie Poster Image
Energetic canine caper offers generic family fun.
  • NR
  • 1998
  • 89 minutes

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

Educational Value

Fun-filled and inoffensive but offers little educational value.

Positive Messages

The movie teaches empathy toward both humans and animals. It also concentrates on the concept of truth. Love wins over hate. Greed and selfishness are not rewarded.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jack is initially lazy and dishonest, but learns the importance of trust, truthfulness, and putting others first. There are stock archetypal characters, such as British maids who are shocked by everything and adult heirs to a fortune shown to be greedy, selfish, and obsessed with money.

Violence & Scariness

Guns are handled on a number of occasions and shot -- firing both bullets and tranquilizer darts -- though nobody is seriously injured. Characters are forcibly removed from premises and someone is throttled. Various booby traps result in intruders tripping on dog toys, crashing into objects, and falling through a window into a pool. There is mention of poison and murder, and the death of a character is shown in flashback. Dangerous driving and a small car crash are shown.

Sexy Stuff

A character is seen in the bath, with partial nudity from the waist up.

Language

Occasional curses and derogatory terms such as "heck," "moron," "numskull," "fruitcake," "maniac," and "lowlife."

Consumerism

The story revolves around a $64 million fortune, with shopping sprees shown and truck fulls of new items delivered to a home. Heirs to the fortune are obsessed with money and are unable to live without their fancy cars and imported shampoos.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that You Lucky Dog is a Disney family comedy with moments of peril, slapstick, and messages about greed. Jack Morgan (Kirk Cameron) claims to be able to read dogs' minds, and finds himself in trouble when he discovers it to be true and is placed in charge of a late millionaire's fortune and his dog, Lucky. Cue numerous caper-like scenes and comedic battles with other disgruntled heirs to the fortune. Jack begins acting like a dog, mirroring that of Lucky's behavior, which provides numerous wacky set pieces. Guns are used on a few occasions, but mostly involving tranquilizer darts, and when a bullet is fired there are no serious injuries. Occasional mild language includes "moron," "numskull," "fruitcake," "maniac," "heck," and "lowlife." Some characters are greedy and money is mentioned often. But ultimately the tone is light and warm, and the message is that love wins over everything else.

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What's the story?

In YOU LUCKY DOG, Jack Morgan (Kirk Cameron) is a former child prodigy who could read his dog's mind and channel his behavior. As an adult, he's lost his gift but continues to cash in on his five minutes of fame by working as a dog therapist. He coasts along until wealthy older man Mr. Windsor (Hansford Rowe) comes to his office with his dog, Lucky, and Jack discovers he can actually read his mind. When Mr. Windsor dies, he leaves his fortune to Lucky, with Jack in charge of the trust. With Jack now acting more and more like a dog, he and Lucky begin having the time of their lives -- such as buying bone-shaped sofas for their their mansion. There's just one problem. There are three disgruntled heirs who are also determined to get their hands on Lucky's money.

Is it any good?

A lovable rogue with an array of comedy facial expressions and an energetic sense of fun carries the story confidently through what is otherwise fairly generic territory. There's something of a Tom Hanks quality about Cameron's portrayal of lead character, Jack, in You Lucky Dog. James Avery's driver Calvin and Chelsea Noble as the attorney dealing with the estate both offer solid support and an easy dynamic that keeps the movie moving at an easy pace through the dynamic caper-like chases and absurd displays of behavior -- including Jack digging for bones and racing through food courts to mirror Lucky's actions.

Elsewhere, the three disinherited heirs to the fortune have a slapstick, buffoon-like quality, reminiscent of the burglars in Home Alone, making the overall feel of the film lighthearted and silly rather than adding much of a threat to proceedings. There is very little to cause much distress and plenty of bright, colorful settings and light comic interludes to appeal to younger children. But the absence of any additional layers of cleverness may mean older audiences will struggle to stay fully engaged.

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