Sgt. Stubby is a good-hearted, historically accurate film animated with charm. It’s a wonder that movies like Sgt. Stubby get made these days. One would not think the pitch for a children’s animated feature about World War I would survive the same industry grinder that endlessly churns out mesmerizing but completely meaningless pabulum aimed at nothing...read more
Sgt. Stubby is a good-hearted, historically accurate film animated with charm. It’s a wonder that movies like Sgt. Stubby get made these days. One would not think the pitch for a children’s animated feature about World War I would survive the same industry grinder that endlessly churns out mesmerizing but completely meaningless pabulum aimed at nothing more than narcotizing children into a merchandising-friendly haze. But Sgt. Stubby the movie, just like Sgt. Stubby the dog, overcame those improbable odds and children everywhere will be the better for it.
Perhaps even more incredible than this film’s very existence is the fact that its subject is not a fable but an actual dog whose wartime exploits are well documented. The real Sgt. Stubby was a dog who seemed to be of the Boston Terrier persuasion but whose true breed was unknown. He hung around members of the 102nd Infantry Regiment as they trained on the Connecticut Yale campus (how times have changed.) Stubby was adopted by Corporal Robert Conroy and smuggled all the way to the trenches of France. He variously warned his unit of incoming gas attacks, helped rescue the wounded, and even held a German soldier at bay until help arrived and the soldier was taken prisoner.
Although there are no explicit renderings of violence or even a drop of blood pictured in Sgt. Stubby, there is a fairly menacing green cloud of poison gas shown creeping towards “our boys” at one point and parents might be advised to be ready for the scene. It’s the only remotely frightening bit in the movie but it’s possible it would be enough to upset some younger viewers. Nevertheless, it’s all history, and even when it’s ugly, surely there is value in confronting it head-on with children.
Helena Bonham Carter, Gerard Depardieu, and Logan Lerman all do excellent work giving voice to the main characters of Sgt. Stubby and the ups and downs of his adventure are presented at a compelling pace.
Sgt. Stubby returned from the Great War to meet three Presidents and serve as the Georgetown Hoyas mascot. He never left Corporal Conroy’s side and died in his sleep in 1926. World War I forever changed the face of the globe and especially America’s place in it. Teaching children about these events is crucial in preparing them for tomorrow’s challenges and this film is an excellent tool for that. And who among us can deny a good tale of man’s best friend? Sgt. Stubby is a delightful excursion into both of these realms and proves that true stories are often the most fantastical of all.
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