Australian Council on Children and the Media

Shaggy Dog, The

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Short takes

Parental guidance under 13 (Theme)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Shaggy Dog, The
  • a review of Shaggy Dog, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 March 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of eight who may be concerned by the transformation of a parent into a dog and by the portrayal of cruelty to animals. Preschoolers may have trouble following the storyline.
Children aged 8-13 The majority of older children could watch this without parental guidance, however some of the scenes in the laboratory may upset them, particularly those who love animals.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 could watch this movie with or without parental guidance.

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: Shaggy Dog, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence
Length 98 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Dave Douglas is an ambitious lawyer who has hopes of becoming the next district attorney. In the meantime he has lost touch with his family, his wife (Kristen Davis), daughter Carly (Zena Grey) and son Josh (Spencer Breslin).

Dave is currently prosecuting an animal liberation protestor for attempting to set fire to the laboratory of a large drug company. Carly believes in animal liberation and is part of the demonstration against the same company. To this end she sneaks off with her boyfriend with the intention of rescuing the animals from the building. Once inside they find a big English sheepdog whom they call ‘Shaggy’. Shaggy is taken home to Carly’s place where he bites Dad. Through this bite Dad gets a mutant virus that turns him into a dog. Dad then moves between being a man and a dog in a seemingly random pattern, and as a dog learns important lessons about his client and the importance of his family.

Themesinfo

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.

Animal liberation

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.

An electric probe is used to stun Shaggy, Dave Douglas and the scientists who work in the lab.

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.

There are some scenes that could disturb children under the age of five, including:

  • the transformation of a parent into a dog could be disturbing for young children
  • Shaggy is locked up in a nasty looking metal cage, which is situated in an unpleasant looking lab
  • two scientists are going to give Shaggy a horrible big injection, with the intention of hurting him.
  • after being recaptured Shaggy has a unpleasant looking metal muzzle on. He is whining looks sad
  • the other animals at the lab are kept in cages also and look unhappy

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.

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

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.

The above scenes may upset the younger end of this age-group more as they will understand the implications of what the scientists are going to do. They could also be concerned by:

  • Dad as a dog is captured and put in cage. Once in there the scientists threaten to harm him.
  • Dr Kozak, one of the senior executives, gives the older current CEO an injection that paralyses him.

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.

Children over the age of 13 could see this movie with or without parental guidance.

Product placement

Dave Douglas drives a BMW.

Sexual references

None

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Use of substances

None

Coarse language

Some mild coarse language and some distasteful comments such as: When Dad is a dog and is at home, he says something like ‘phew you stink, you must be on heat’ in reference to his wife.

In a nutshell

The Shaggy Dog is primarily a movie about good vs. evil where good triumphs in the end. Along the way the family learns how to be a family again. It also highlights the need to communicate with each other rather than acting in isolation. The other message that comes through strongly is the need to stand up for what you believe in as often this is the right thing to do.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • loyalty
  • friendship
  • family values
  • belief in yourself

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the issue of animal liberation.

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