Isle of Dogs

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Not recommended under 10, parental guidance recommended 10 to 13 due to themes and violence

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Isle of Dogs
  • a review of Isle of Dogs completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 April 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to violence and themes
Children aged 10-13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and themes
Viewers aged 13 and over OK for this group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Isle of Dogs
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, animated violence, coarse language
Length: 101 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In a futuristic Japan, a man-made ‘canine flu’ ravages the dog population and the terrified human community is brainwashed into banishing their beloved pets to the wasteland of Trash Island. To set an example for his people Mayor Kobayashi (voice of Kunichi Nomura) sends Spots (Liev Schreiber), a guard dog from his own household, to the island first.

A few months later the mayor’s nephew and ward Atari (Koyu Rankin) steals a small plane in an effort to fly to the island, find his best friend Spots and bring him home. He crash lands on the island and despite his injuries is determined to rescue Spots. He is aided by a gang of dogs: Rex (Edward Norton), Duke (Jeff Goldblum), Boss (Bill Murray), Chief (Bryan Cranston) and King (Bob Balaban) who are inspired by his courage and loyalty and vow to help him no matter what consequences they may face. While they search for Spots, Chief slowly starts to bond with Atari and the Mayor uses his nephew’s disappearance against the dogs to incite more hatred and violence.

Meanwhile foreign exchange student, Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig) launches a personal investigation against political corruption and a government conspiracy to annihilate the entire canine population. It takes cooperation and teamwork from unlikely allies to uncover the truth, expose the corruption and bring the dogs safely back home.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Cruelty to animals; experiments on animals; the attempted mass killing of dogs; death of parents; suicide (briefly touched on).

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

This film contains frequent violence, including:

  • Numerous fights involving both dogs and humans. These are often portrayed as a wild ball of chaos with legs, paws and fists flying out.
  • Items are thrown at a speaker - blood and cuts are shown.
  • There is some blood and gore. For example, when a dog’s ear is bitten off, blood spurts out and the severed ear is seen lying upon the ground. Another dog kicks it away in disgust.
  • Men come for Atari and try to take him, blindfolded and restrained, into a waiting aircraft. The dogs fight the men. Chief fights a robot dog and sustains numerous injuries but he wins and Atari is able to escape.
  • There are rumours of a cannibalistic tribe of dogs who will do anything to survive.
  • Atari pulls a bit of metal out of his head and a spurt of blood is seen. There is still metal lodged in his skull but it doesn’t appear to bother him till later in the film.
  • One dog tells about how another committed suicide by hanging himself from his leash.
  • Spots has a military issue exploding tooth that fire exploding bullets. These are used twice.
  • A sushi chef chops and slices live fish. This is creepy and disturbing.
  • A human character is poisoned; his dead body is shown in the mortuary, eyes bulging from their sockets.
  • Three dogs escape a chopping, crushing and incinerating machine.
  • Some of the dogs locked in cages on Trash Island could not escape and their skeletons are shown.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Most of the dogs on Trash Island have numerous scars and are matted and filthy.
  • There is a very creepy and evil man who encourages the mayor in his plan to annihilate all dogs. He has a monster-like face and is often angry or yelling.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A news broadcast details how Atari’s parents are killed in a train crash and the badly injured boy is sent to live in the home of his uncle.
  • Numerous dogs are shown with scars, wires or tubes attached to their bodies. They are reminders of a horrific animal testing facility that used to be located on Trash Island.
  • Atari’s new found canine friends are constantly under threat from the Kobayashi regime who are determined to kill all the dogs on Trash Island

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern for this age group

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

  • A female, former show dog named Nutmeg is rumoured to be, and repeatedly accused of, mating with Felix.  -  eg “She made it with Felix.”
  • One dog sighs and says that “All the dogs I like are never in heat.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The mayor’s naked bottom is seen as he gets out of a bath.
  • Sumo wrestlers tussle on a mat in traditional brief costumes.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • drinking in a bar

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “son of a bitch”; “bitch”; “damn it”

In a nutshell

The Isle of Dogs is a stop motion animated movie based in Japan which is most suited to some tweens, young teenagers and older viewers. The majority of the Japanese spoken in this film is not translated, though viewers can generally get the idea of what is being said. The dogs, however, speak in English. The film is broken into parts and may be difficult for younger viewers to follow. The animation can be beautiful but the background is purposefully ugly and depressing. The violence and themes make the film too scary for younger children and parental guidance is recommended for the 10 to 13 year old age group, but older children and their parents are likely to enjoy the film which has had many favourable reviews.

The main messages from this movie are to stand up for what is right, even if you are the only one standing, to fight for what you believe in even when winning appears impossible and to never give up no matter how hopeless your situation may appear.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Loyalty, love, friendship, standing up for the downtrodden and fighting against corruption.

This movie could also give parents plenty to discuss with their children, such as:

  • Political corruption and how it can tear a family, a community or a country apart.
  • The culling of animals and how this still happens all over the world as well as the effects this can have on the environment.
  • Animal testing and the terrible effects that this has on those being experimented upon.