Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

Ages: 6 and upProducer: Fun Academy Motion Pictures

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is a full-length film based on true World War I events about a mutt turned bona fide champion. His story starts on the streets when he’s found by Private Robert Conroy, who names him “Stubby” because of the dog’s short little tail. Stubby “trains” alongside Conroy and other soldiers and when Conroy goes to France to fight, Stubby manages to tag along. The story deepens when they go into battle on the front lines. Stubby digs out soldiers buried beneath rubble after explosions, alerts troops and villagers to poisonous gas attacks, and sniffs out the enemy when they infiltrate the trenches. Conroy nurses Stubby after he’s injured by a grenade, and later Stubby nurses Conroy after he falls ill with the flu. When Stubby sniffs out a German spy, he gets “promoted” to the rank of sergeant.

With CGI by Mikros Animation, the art direction is stunning but it’s also simple, clean, and stays true to the atmosphere of the era. Featuring the voice talents of Helena Bohnam Carter, Logan Lerman, and G?rard Depardieu, the story manages to be both sophisticated and straightforward at the same time. It’s understandable for elementary-aged children but parents should be aware that scenes of gun battles and other WWI tactics, such as the use of mustard gas, may require additional conversations to provide context and clarity. Still, the war elements are handled with sensitivity, and the focus remains on the friendship and trust between Conroy and Sgt. Stubby.

For families and educators who want to learn more about this real-life canine hero, Fun Academy Motion Pictures offers a companion website for the film with educational guides, activities, and a number of photos of the actual Sgt. Stubby, the most decorated dog in U.S. Army history.

Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.