The Top Family-Friendly Movies Focused on Dogs
While there seems to be a recent surge of films focusing on dogs, from “Alpha’s” domestication of the first wolf to the futuristic cyber-dog film “A-X-L,” dogs have been a regular topic for family-friendly movie fare. This article seeks to highlight some of the best dog-centric family films in the hope that it either reminds you of the ones you grew up watching or it introduce you to a few you either forgot or had never heard of before.
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)
This fictional film is based on the circumstances surrounding the real Hachiko, a Shiba Inu. The film focuses on the unwavering loyalty and dedication exhibited by Hachiko as he waits at the train station his master takes to come and go from his university job; even after the man dies away from home, Hachiko expectantly remained at the station.
The real Hachiko’s loyalty was so legendary that he was immortalized in a group of bronze statues located at Shibuya Station, Odate Station, the Akita Dog Museum and even a statue of Hachiko reunited with his master at the University of Tokyo campus. This film is also a remake of “Hachiko Monogatari,” a Japanese film from 1987 whose title directly translates as “The Story of Hachiko.”
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
While this is yet another remake, it is better known than the original from 1963. This film features two dogs, a young American Bulldog and a wise old Golden Retriever, and a cat, a Himalayan, who all manage to become separated from their family in ranch country. Refusing to believe that their family would intentionally abandon them, the animals set out on a cross-country journey from ranching country to San Francisco. While the animals get separated at various points along the way, their journey is puncutated by voice-overs from Michael J. Fox, Don Ameche and Sally Field. Not only is this a great film for dog lovers, it also has something for the cat-lovers and people who can appreciate the various landscapes of the western half of the United States.
Disney’s Bolt (2008)
This computer animated film combines elements from “The Truman Show” with the superheroics of “The Incredibles.” The titular Bolt is a dog who has been raised from his puppy days with the belief that he is a superheroic dog and partner to Penny, a young do-gooder child, as they repeatedly thwart the machinations of Dr. Calico. The truth is that the studio has done its best to make Bolt a method animal actor, shaping all of his experiences to believe that what he does is the real world and not some high production television series. After Bolt misinterprets a cliffhanger episode’s ending as his human being kidnapped, he breaks free of the studio and slowly learns that everything he believed was a lie. Despite his shattered perceptions, Bolt eventually learns that Penny’s actress legitimately cares for the dog and accepts her as his owner once again.
Bolt is credited as the impetus for the most recent wave of Disney’s success. A wave that films like “Tangled” and “Frozen” rode upon.
This animated film covers the antics of Balto, an outcast half-breed of wolf and dog. After illness sweeps through Alaska, the town hosts a race to determine which dogs to put on the emergency sled run. After seeing how much Jenna, his love interest, cares for the human girl in her family, Balto enters the competition in order to prove himself and do the right thing.
Although this film is inspired by real life, it took several major liberties with the story and Balto’s character. There are two sequels to Balto in “Wolf Quest” and “Winds of Change.”
The “Lassie” Franchise
While some may recall the television series, there have been many films about this iconic Rough Collie. Six Lassie films were made in the 1940s, followed by “The Painted Hills” in 1951, “Lassie’s Great Adventure” in 1963, “The Magic of Lassie” in 1978 and then other films both titled “Lassie” in 1994 and 2005.
Lassie is one of the few animals to be featured on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.