Based on Jack London’s beloved literary classic, The Call of The Wild brings Buck’s story to the big screen. Will this adaptation be a noteworthy performance? Does it stay true to the original story? Is The Call of The Wild kid-friendly? I’m breaking down all of the thematic elements in my Call of The Wild Parent Movie Review to help YOU decide if it’s safe for kids. This review might contain slight spoilers do to some elements of the film.
THE CALL OF THE WILD PARENT MOVIE REVIEW #CALLOFTHEWILD
Did you read Jack London’s The Call of the Wild in school? I know I did…but I honestly don’t remember too much about it, except it was about a dog. When I first saw the trailers for an adaptation of this literary classic, I was really excited. When I noticed it also starred Harrison Ford, I thought it was sure to be a hit. And then I saw Buck….the dog. And? Well. I was a bit underwhelmed. Disappointed even.
You see. Buck is a complete CGI dog. He’s not real. Now I’m not saying this cannot be done. Look at Disney’s live-action The Lion King. A film with ONLY CGI animals, and it was beautiful. What I saw in The Call of the Wild trailer was lacking that realness. You KNEW this dog wasn’t real. It was obvious. There weren’t any questions about it.
But of course, I still was very interested in seeing the movie. I have my degree in English and love myself a good classic. Also? I am a huge dog lover. It was definitely a must-see.
The Call of The Wild not only stars Harrison Ford, he is also the narrator. He tells us Buck’s story. We’re introduced to Buck immediately and learn that he seems to be a member of his community. Everyone knows him. Through a series of events, Buck ends up on his own adventure and meets John Thornton (Harrison Ford).
The Call of The Wild is visually stunning. It showcases picturesque Alaska in breathtaking beauty. And that CGI dog? He really wasn’t all that bad. Sure it wasn’t done to “The Lion King” standards, but it worked. I felt Buck had human-like qualities because of how the CGI was implemented. You were really able to see Buck’s emotion. Seeing sadness in his big eyes was heartbreaking and believable. The CGI humanized Buck, and that was okay. You can’t help but fall in love with this selfless, compassionate dog.
Does the dog die in The Call of The Wild?
It’s a dog lovers worst fear. If you read the book, then you already know the answer, but I thought it was important to address it here. You will be happy (and relieved) to know that Buck does not die in the movie.
Is The Call of The Wild Kid-Friendly?
The big question. Should you take your kids to see The Call of The Wild? As with most family films…that depends. I brought my two children, ages 10 and 6. But to be honest with you, I was VERY hesitant to bring my 6 year old. I didn’t know if it would hold his attention. We did decide to bring him, however, my husband was prepared to leave the theater if he needed to.
The Call of The Wild is rated PG for violence, peril, thematic elements and mild language. Honestly, there are some tough scenes to watch, one in particular was really difficult involving animal cruelty. Even if you’re not a dog lover, it will hurt your heart. This could be tough for kids to watch. It has a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes, which is the perfect length for children.
I was really surprised my 6 year old did as well as he did with this movie. He didn’t ask me one time, “is it almost over?” He did sit on my lap about half way through, but that’s typical for him. There was also one jump scene that startled him. He did turn his head to look away and told me to tell him when it wasn’t scary. If you were to ask him, he will tell you he liked the movie.
My 10 year old loved it, just as I expected him to. He did have a few questions, as this movie has some great talking points for you to have with your children. He also noticed the CGI wasn’t as realistic, which made me laugh. My 10 year old critic!
Sensitive thematic elements in the film:
Violence: I mentioned animal cruelty and abuse, and I’m making note of it again. Be prepared for some tough scenes to watch. Buck takes a lot of serious abuse, and it’s very hard to see. I actually turned my head at one part. There are also dog fights and one bar fight.
Language: I heard a use of “son of a…” without finishing the phrase. Otherwise this was very tame for language. Much appreciated.
Adult themes: John has a drinking problem, and intuitively, Buck knows this. He actually takes his whiskey bottle away from him. This could raise questions about alcohol dependency. My 10 year old actually asked me “what is whiskey?”
Age recommendation: Although I did take my 6 year old to see the movie, I probably wouldn’t have brought him if he didn’t have an older brother. I recommend The Call of The Wild for ages 8 and up. But remember there are many sensitive themes. You know your child best and how he or she will respond to them.
While I was initially unsure of the CGI dog in The Call of The Wild, it did surprise me…in a good way! If you’re a fan of Jack London’s classic, seeing this movie will bring the book to life. It humanizes Buck, and makes you have a deeper appreciation for man’s best friend. It is heartwarming to watch the bond develop between John and Buck. They both needed each other to get “home.” Will this movie win any awards? Probably not, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t go see it. It will warm your heart as you go on this adventure. Grab your family, your best friend, your favorite dog-lover, and go see The Call of The Wild in theaters!
About The Call of The Wild
Adapted from the beloved literary classic, THE CALL OF THE WILD vividly brings to the screen the story of Buck, a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team–and later its leader–Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master.