A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zeus and Roxanne is a 1997 movie about the bond that forms between a dog and dolphin in the Florida Keys, and the love that develops between a musician and a marine biologist as a result. Overall, this movie is best for young kids who are interested in seeing dogs and dolphins behaving adorably; older kids and parents will quickly tire of the sappy storyline. There is some peril -- one of the lead characters nearly drowns when her mini-submarine becomes entangled in a drift net; the lead dog also gets trapped in a drift net, as well as falling off a boat and being left in the middle of the ocean before his dolphin friend comes to his rescue. Also, there is a scene in which the dog urinates on the bad guys who are caught in a net, much to the delight and laughter of the adult and child characters witnessing this. There is a subtle reference to a ship's captain being an alcoholic. There's some kissing and romance as the kids of the two adult lead characters do their best to play matchmaker to their parents. Expect one "hell."
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What's the story?
While spending the summer at a rented beach house, widower Terry Barnett (Steve Guttenberg) and his young son, Jordan, befriend their marine biologist neighbor, Mary Beth Dunhill (Kathleen Quinlan). Terry's dog, Zeus, strikes up an immediate kinship with Roxanne, a formerly captive dolphin that Mary Beth is trying to get to adjust to life in the open sea. While Jordan and Mary Beth's daughters plot to get their parents together, Mary Beth applies for a grant on interspecies communication, utilizing Zeus for her research. But her unscrupulous competitor, Dr. Carver, does everything he can to sabotage her work and win the grant for himself. Carver captures Zeus and Roxanne, but Zeus turns the tables and traps Carver in a net while he and Roxanne escape.
Is it any good?
ZEUS AND ROXANNE is pleasantly innocuous when it sticks to such shameless but effective family-movie basics as single parents falling in love, precocious kids, and adorable animals. It offers attractive underwater photography and pretty sunsets, a broadly comic villain with a South African accent, and cute scenes of the frisky dog "talking" to the shy dolphin. Unfortunately, it becomes virtually unwatchable when the plot's focus shifts from communicating animals to Terry and Mary Beth's sappy romance.
Australian director George Miller is an old hand at these animal and nature movies, but this one is strictly a dull, by-the-numbers effort. Tweens who are able to get past the syrupy romance will get the most out of this movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about animal movies. How does this movie compare to other animal-centered films you've seen? Do these movies have a formula?
Is this type of film meant to make you feel a certain way? How did this particular movie make you feel?
Where did the movie seem unrealistic, especially in terms of the abilities of the dog and dolphin to understand each other, the humans around them, and the machinery they operate?
- In theaters: January 24, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: May 21, 1997
- Cast: Arnold Vosloo, Kathleen Quinlan, Steve Guttenberg
- Director: George Miller
- Studio: HBO
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Ocean Creatures
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild thematic elements
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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