User ReviewsReview this title
The strengths: The music, the story and the fact that the movie doesn't have one of the likely endings one might predict. I suspect the ending is largely due to Stubby being based on a true story. I'm unaware how accurate this portrayal is to the real story, but it seemed to me like a respectable adaptation. The way they managed to show the awful reality of The Great War, while keeping it G rated is really a difficult triumph of the film. It's important for people to have exposure the errors in war, as opposed to just the victories and heroism. This film highlights both.
The weaknesses: The voice acting doesn't stand out as great. The dialogue isn't a strength. But they get a longer leash (no pun intended) because it's a kids movie. The animation is great in the 2D segments, and much of the 3D animation is fine. However there are clips where I can tell they didn't have the funds to make the animation as good as they'd like it to be. The clips of the soldiers marching seem noticeably too synchronized and took me out of the story.
Overall, I recommend this film to anyone. It's not a film expect to win Oscars or nominations. But, it's a distinctive likable real-story dog movie. And the film is especially good if you want a mostly uplifting real story for kids about a subject they likely know little about: World War 1.
I'm probably in the minority, but I find the history of World War 1 to be just interesting and important as World War 2. It seems the average person knows 10 times more about World War 2 than World War 1 and there are about 10 World War 2 movies for each World War 1 movie. World War 1 highlights how futile and unnecessarily evil war can be even for the victors. World War 2 on the other-hand often enables the attitude of supporting war, because a lot of the losses to World War 2 seem worth it or necessary because of what was gained and what was at stake. A lot of wars are more like WW1 than WW2, and this is something everyone should understand.
Film: Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero
Director: Richard Lanni
Writers: Richard Lanni, Mike Stokey
Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Logan Lerman, Gérard Depardieu
Kid Friendly: An animated film that presents kid friendly has to in fact be kid friendly, and Sgt. Stubby reports for duty on this front. Its adorable mascot is not only the key advertisement component of the film, but a keystone in the cute factor of this movie. Stubby will pull your little ones in and keep them and the young at heart laughing. You may think that a movie about war can't possibly be child friendly, but the editing and craft have been strongly turned up to filter out any scary aspects of war. Thus, if you're looking to teach history and going for a family feel Stubby will help you out.
Good Pace: No worries about slow parts with this film, Sgt. Stubby and his platoon are able to present their story in record time, which is good for covering two years of a war, as the movie is presented below 90 minutes. Given all the child friendly antics and low run time, it's like this studio was right on target for making a good kid's film.
Decent Animation: Certainly not Pixar quality, but the Sgt. Stubby still is not too shabby in terms of quality of bringing the WW1 era to life. The canine of wonder is the best animated of the bunch, while the human soldiers are representative of something from the Clone Wars series. Decently smooth, and representative of the situations, but just not quite as dynamic or mind blowing as Disney's megalith. In regards to design, again the developers have the cute motif down, but outside of that, not the most unique or diverse character development I have seen.
Helena Bonham Carter: Voice acting wise, the movie is decent with the three leads of course being the most impressive. However, it is the narrative provided by Bonham Carter that really holds the most emotional sway of the movie. Such heartfelt emotion in so few words, this leading lady more than helped set the cloud of emotions over each scene, establishing a different perspective that adds to the movie and expands the relatability of the events to more audience members.
The Emotion: Dog movies have a way of digging deep into your core and potentially depressing the heck out of you. Sgt. Stubby brings a mixed bag of emotions, at times lifting your spirits to new heights of love, happiness, and joy, while other times bringing you to near tears as man and man's best friend face the beast of war. I myself nearly teared up several times at the sequences' powerful display of powerful symphony work, visual developments, and of course Stubby's human like composure to just about everything. You will certainly become invested in this movie on this component alone, with the cuteness being the icing on the cake.
Smoother Animation: A movie about an American hero certainly should be rewarded with more fluid animation. Again, this isn't the worst (certainly better than I can draft), but it would have been nice to have them pull some work out like competing studios are capable of. The blocky movements and lack of intense action-animation scenes are what take away from some of the scenes for me, which could have been remedied.
More Impasses: For a war, Stubby's journey seemed a little easy at times. Sgt. Stubby introduced a number of obstacles that gave them some challenge...for like five minutes, only to have the solution pop in mere seconds later. There were few close call moments and that lack of suspense made it difficult to remain on the edge of my seat. The cuteness is great, but from a storytelling element, this film failed on the emotional growth components.
Lack of Action: War, what is it good for? Usually a good number of action scenes, and some high-intensity stakes. However, the cute factor and kid friendly nature really dilutes the excitement of this movie, perhaps even to the point of making it less impressive at what he accomplished. Sgt. Stubby almost needed to be presented as a real-life form that could open up to more action, more intensity, and really bring Stubby's achievements to full intensity. Perhaps then it would have roped in more people.
Sgt. Stubby is certainly the cutest adventure to come to the theaters this year, and the sheer emotional roller coaster is more than enough to get all ages worked up. Yet, this movie is really lacking that adventure magic, particularly the action, impasse, and structure to drive the growth of the characters. Young ones will certainly enjoy this movie, but given the elements that it needs improving on, the film is going to have a hard time making ends meet in the theater. This reviewer still thinks this movie is really stimulating, but it may be best reserved for home viewing to be honest.
My scores are:
Animation/Adventure/Family: 9.0 Movie overall: 7.0
The titular mutt latches onto Army private Robert Conroy (voice by Logan Lerman) after Robert tosses him a cookie during a military parade. Stubby follows Robert to the make-shift basic training area for the Connecticut National Guard on the grounds of Yale University and won't leave him alone. Robert is afraid that Stubby's presence will get him and his tentmates, Elmer Olsen (Jordan Beck) and Hans Schroeder (Jim Pharr), in trouble, but Stubby charms their drill sergeant (Jason Ezzell) and gets to stay.
When the unit prepares to go fight, Robert bids Stubby a sad farewell, but Stubby refuses to let his best friend leave him behind. Stubby manages to jump on the troop train and then stow away on the ship taking the soldiers to France. Stubby continually manages to charm everyone around him - including the military powers-that-be - to whom he also demonstrates his usefulness - and stays with New England's 26th Infantry Division all the way to the front. When Robert is assigned to join a burly French soldier named Gaston Baptiste (Oscar nominee Gérard Depardieu) on his scouting missions, Stubby comes along, which is just the beginning of the pooch's exciting, dangerous and heroic wartime adventures.
"Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero" is an engaging and educational animated adventure. In spite of the horrors of war surrounding him, Stubby's charming, happy and loving nature clearly shines through. Meanwhile, there's a lot of educational value here (aided by sparse narration by Oscar nominee Helena Bonham Carter as Robert's older sister) - especially for younger Movie Fans who don't yet understand what war is (or know much about history), but are too young to be exposed to more graphic or complex depictions of man's inhumanity to man. That all makes this an unusual, but valuable and entertaining animated movie which is likely to appeal to kids, dog lovers and history buffs of all ages. "B+"
I have been familiar with the story of Sgt. Stubby for many years, since I own Boston Terriers. The movie kept pretty much to the facts, especially concerning his accomplishments, which are well documented. Of course, it did exaggerate his abilities a bit, but hey, "Artistic license", LOL. I'm so glad that Stubby's story has finally been told. He was true American hero, from the first American breed of dog, the Boston Terrier. I know they call him a mutt in the movie, but trust me, he was a Boston.
My only criticism is that the animation was not top notch, and they drew him with floppy ears. The real Stubby had cropped, pointed, erect ears.
Go see it, bring a hanky, and leave the kids at home. It's really not a kids movie---parts of it are quite rough. It's a real war movie.