Red Dog: True Blue

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Not recommended under 9, parental guidance 9 to 13 due to disturbing themes and scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Red Dog: True Blue
  • a review of Red Dog: True Blue completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 December 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 9 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 9 to 13 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes
Children 13 and over OK for this age 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Red Dog: True Blue
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 89 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This prequel to Red Dog opens with Michael Carter (Jason Isaacs) taking his two young sons to the cinema to see the original film. When Michael’s young son Theo asks his dad why the film made him cry, Michael tells his son that he was the original owner of Red Dog when he was a young boy. From this point on the story is told as a flashback, beginning in 1969 where we find Michael Carter as a young boy known as Mick (Levi Miller).

Mick’s life is turned upside down when his father dies and his mother has a nervous breakdown, leaving no one to care for him.  As a result Mick is shipped off to an outback cattle station owned by his strict but sensitive grandfather (Brian Brown). Mick easily slips into his new life and is well-liked by the station’s colourful characters. But Mick’s greatest companion and teacher comes along in the form of a mud-covered kelpie pup stranded up tree after a cyclone. Mick rescues the pup and calls him Blue and the pair become fast friends.

A year later the pair are inseparable with Mick and Blue happily roaming the countryside. All that changes when Mick’s grandfather decides that Mick’s education is lacking and brings in a young and attractive tutor named Betty (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) to assist with Mick’s studies. Mick is instantly smitten with Betty but finds that he is not the only one vying for her attention - a situation that leads to him making some bad choices which he has to right.

Unfortunately all good stories come to an end and Mick, like all station-dwelling kids, is sent off to boarding school. With Mick gone, Blue refuses to stick around and begins his roving adventures as ‘Red Dog’.


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.

Death of a parent; mental illness; relationships

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.

The film contains some violence, including:

  • Mick is chased by an enraged horse which rears up over him and stamps its hooves on the ground. In one scene Mick escapes the enraged horse by outrunning it and then jumping over a fence. 
  • A couple of scenes depict two men play fighting - wrestling each other to the ground.
  • In one scene a dog repeatedly growls and snaps at a man who attempts to sit on the same couch as him.
  • As a punishment his grandfather smacks a pre-teen boy several times on the buttocks. We do not see the physical act, but see a closed door and hear the sounds of several loud smacks. In a later scene the boy pulls down the tops of his pants to reveal several red marks on his upper buttocks.
  • Mick who is jealous of a young man’s attentions towards Betty verbally argues with the man and then challenges him to a fight.     

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:

  • A man cries while watching a film at a cinema
  • One scary scene depicts several adults and a young boy in a house while a cyclone rages outside. We hear the sound of roaring winds and hear crashes and bangs and see a sheet of corrugated iron crash through the window. We see the boy sitting under the dining table for protection and hear the boy’s grandfather telling his grandson how the house was very strong. The boy asks his grandfather if they are going to die.
  • Several scenes show an enraged horse with crazed eyes; one eye is blind only showing white. We hear how the horse was driven crazy when struck by lightning and we see a brief image of the horse being hit by a bolt of lightning and collapsing to the ground. In a later scene we hear how the horse had been killed when struck by a bolt of lightning for a second time and we see an image of the horse lying dead on the ground.

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 man tells his young sons how his father died suddenly when he was a young boy and we see a brief flashback image of the funeral at the gravesite.
  • Reference is made to a young boy’s mother suffering a mental breakdown that requiring her to be hospitalised.
  • In one scene we hear reference made to a variety of deadly animals that were a threat to daily life including crocodiles, death adder snakes and red-back spiders.
  • Following a cyclone, Mick finds a puppy covered in blue mud stranded in a tree; the puppy looks scared but is uninjured.
  • In one scene two men display their body scars. One man’s scars are on his stomach a result of time spent in Vietnam. The second man’s scars are like welts across his chest the result of traditional aboriginal practices.
  • The film contains a couple of scenes inside a cave. The cave is described as a sacred site and has a forbidden, magical, supernatural feel about it; glowing lights eerie sounds etc.         
  • A raging bushfire heads towards a homestead and we see several men with wet bags attempting to smother small fires, and hear that the homestead is in danger of burning down. A short time later we hear how the wind changed direction and the fire burnt itself out; we see people covered in black ash, but no injuries are depicted.
  • Mick is distressed and upset when he is forced to leave his dog behind. He cries as the dog runs after him.

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.

  • In one scene we hear a story told involving a traditional magic man (witch doctor), murder, shooting, people chained to a tree and a witch doctor using a stone to curse people to dearth.

Thirteen and overinfo

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

The film contains occasional low-level sexual innuendo and references scattered throughout. Examples include:

  • A man driving on an outback road stops his vehicle when he sees a dog sitting in the middle of the road. The man opens the ute’s door and the dog jumps into the car, sitting on the seat next to the driver. The driver then looks at the side of the road and sees several female dogs in a group. The driver looks at the dog sitting next to him and says “You sly devil that’s what you’ve been doing out here”. 
  • Blue steals female underwear from the clothesline, eating some pants and becoming tangled in a bra  
  • In one scene it is suggested that two characters in the film, who are portrayed to be brothers are not brothers at all but two men engaged in a gay relationship.

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains brief partial nudity.  Examples include:

  • To impress a young woman, a young man (while receiving and injections) rather than rolling up his sleeve removes his shirts and displays the muscles in his chest and arms.   
  • Scenes of flirting
  • A young woman in brief shorts repeatedly bends over while a boy and young man observe
  • A young woman briefly kisses a young man on the lips.
  • A young woman lies on a rug on the ground with a man lying on one side and a boy on the other. Simultaneously both the boy and the man hold one of the girl’s hands as a romantic gesture. When the young man looks over and sees that the boy is holding the woman’s other hand he looks at the boy and says “Mate, we need to talk”.  An argument results with the boy challenging the young man to a fight.        

Use of substances

The film contains some occasional use and depiction of alcohol. Examples include:

  • Two men sitting at a dinner table both with a half glass of beer. One of the men asks “Haven’t you got anything stronger?” One man then places a bottle of scotch on the table and pours two glasses.

Coarse language

The film contains a scattering of low-level coarse language and name-calling. Examples include:

  • Crikey, shut up, bloody
  • Stupid, dumb block of wood, idiot, loony, Black Fella

In a nutshell

The film Red Dog: True Blue (the prequel to Red Dog) is a comedy drama about the friendship between a boy and his dog. True Blue connects well with its predecessor while still providing the audience with a completely new story full of humour, sadness and compassion. It is an entertaining film for most of the family, although there are themes and scenes that are likely to disturb younger children.  It is therefore not recommended for children under 9, with parental guidance recommended for 9 to 13 year olds.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • For a child, a relationship with a loved animal can be very important
  • Life can be sad at time, but we get to keep the good memories.
  • Owning up to our responsibilities and mistakes is important.

Parents may wish to discuss the manner in which the film tackles the issue of land rights as well as sacred sites and artefacts.