The Call of the Wild Movie Review-Should Kids See It?

From 20th Century Fox, the newest adaptation of the beloved book “The Call of the Wild” hit theaters on February 21, 2020. What is the movie all about? Is it as good as the book? Should kids see it? I aim to answer all that and more in this movie review of “The Call of the Wild.”

Theatrical poster for The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild Movie Review

Did you read “The Call of the Wild” in school? Unfortunately, this book did not make my required reading list. After seeing the film, I kinda want to read the book! It certainly would have been better than the “Lord of the Flies” required reading I had (anyone else hate that book too?).

Anyway, even though I had no basis for this movie, I was actually quite intrigued by it. Would the CGI dog be distracting? What was the movie actually about? Would Harrison Ford be playing the good guy or the bad guy? All of my questions were answered, and I’m happy to say that I really, really enjoyed this movie.

Buy The Call of the Wild here on digital right now!

What is the Movie About?

The main character of the story is Buck, a beloved family dog who is spoiled rotten. Unaware of how spoiled his life really is, Buck is kidnapped and sold off as a potential sled dog to those looking to find their fortunes in the Canadian Yukon. It’s set in the 1890s, and mail is still being delivered by sled. Buck has to learn pretty quickly how to be a “real” dog and survive in this new frontier.

John Thornton, played by Harrison Ford, comes into focus in the last half of the movie as Buck’s pseudo-companion and guide. John helps Buck learn more about what it’s like to hear “the call of the wild” and be his own master rather than a pet.

Should Kids See The Call of the Wild?

As a parent, I’m always thinking about my kids when it comes to seeing movies, especially ones that are targeted a children in the G or PG ratings category. My girls are both 9 now, so they’ve moved past a lot of things that would normally cause me to caution parents about seeing movies like “The Call of the Wild.”

Sled dogs in The Call of the Wild.

However, I will say, there is a good bit of violence toward the dog, Buck, especially toward the beginning of the movie. Be aware of that if you’ve got a child who is sensitive. My child who isn’t as sensitive didn’t seem phased by the insinuated violence, but the idea is there nonetheless.

Violence in the Movie

Viewers don’t actually see Buck getting beaten or whipped, but it is insinuated through shadowed imagery and sounds, and we all know kids are smart enough to read between the lines these days. Exercise your best parental judgement here.

Additionally, be aware that Harrison Ford’s character, John Thornton, and Dan Steven’s character, Hal, also engage in two fights, one with fists and one with a gun. Those scenes are a little rough and might cause distress to sensitive viewers.

Is there Adult Content in The Call of the Wild?

Yes, there is some language in “The Call of the Wild.” The story adapted from the book of the same name is about the Yukon Gold Rush in the 1890s after all.

There are some rough and tumble characters in the story that use words like “damn” and “hell.” Thankfully, that is the extent of the cursing involved.

What about other adult content? Gratefully, there is no nudity or suggestive scenes. In one scene, Buck tries to sleep in the tent with his sled drivers, Perrault (Omar Sy) and Francoise (Cara Gee), but the scene is more funny than it is scandalous. Since I haven’t read the book, I don’t know if Perrault and Francoise are married, in a relationship, or just co-workers, but there is nothing suggestive about the scene with the tent (and honestly, that’s not the focus of the story anyway).

Lastly, on the adult front, there are one scene that takes place in a bar, and a few scenes where John Thornton drowns his sorrows in whiskey. The way that Buck reacts to John’s drinking away his sorrows might be a good conversation starter for parents with older children.

Buy The Call of the Wild here on digital right now!

CGI Dogs-Distracting or Not?

Finally, and probably most importantly, how in the world could one watch a movie that’s one hour and forty-five minutes long when the main character is a CGI dog? Well, reader, I did just that.

Once I got past the strangeness of seeing a dog react in such a human way to situations and conversations, I actually found myself incredibly engaged in the story. Buck does not talk. In fact, John Thornton, Harrison Ford’s character, does all the narrating for Buck, and I thought that was a great use of his acting ability. If they had made Buck talk, I think it would have brought the tone of the movie down into a silly rather than serious space.

The Call of the Wild-See It or Redbox It?

Final thoughts on “The Call of the Wild:” should you see it in theaters or Redbox it? You guys know I’m a fan of a matinee (or super matinee) movie, so always consider movies at a discount. With so little for families in theaters right now, this one would be a good consideration.

Buy The Call of the Wild here on digital right now!

However, if you’re waiting for Disney/Pixar’s Onward, which rolls into theaters next week, I’d definitely save a Redbox coupon for this one. “The Call of the Wild” is worth seeing once, but if you’ve read the book, it’s probably better.

Call of the Wild Family Activities

In addition to the recent release of the movie in a digital format, check out these awesome family activities related to the movie!

Everything from coloring pages to “Find the Difference” pages to a complete board game are FREE to print out and share with your family!

3 Comments on “The Call of the Wild Movie Review-Should Kids See It?”

  1. So my family decided to read the book because the movie was coming out. Ummmm let’s just say the book would be more along the lines of Quentin Tarantino violent than Disney. By the second chapter my kids asked “Are you sure we can see this movie?!”

    All that said I am still excited to see this version. The book is a deep story and many themes can be pulled out for discussion.

    1. Wow! I am certainly glad to know that about the book because Caroline really wanted to read it after seeing the movie. Yeah, the violence in the movie is very minimal and really just “understood” rather than seen. I hope you will go see it because I do think it’s good for kids 8+!

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