Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero (2018) Movie Review

By: Reel 127 (Two Beers) –

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is as heroic as it sounds. I’m not trying to come off as sarcastic here. This isn’t just some rando animated film that somehow made it to the big screen. Sgt. Stubby tells an interesting albeit lesser known story from World War I.

Originally a mutt living on the streets, Stubby begins to follow an American army division and is eventually adopted into their ranks. He ships out with the rest of the troops to the front lines in France and while there commits acts of heroism. Saving lives and fighting Germans!

The greatest hero you’ve never heard of.

A Toast

I was beyond skeptical when walking into this movie. I knew about the story it was based on, but the trailers did not make it look that good. And the first three minutes could have been much better. I know this sounds bad so far, but as the movie went on I found myself enjoying it more and more. Once the characters get to the front line the tone really shifts from perky to dangerous. Dark imagery and color schemes do an excellent job in creating the dread felt in the trenches. I have to commend the director for being able to capture the gloom and horror of war in an animated family film of all places.

See! You can entertain your kids
and show them how scary the world is!

The animation for Stubby was great. They did a fantastic job of capturing the mannerisms and movement of a dog. Part way through I realized how glad I was that this wasn’t a talking animal film. By keeping Stubby’s dialogue to just barks it really helped to set the tone of realism for the whole film (though a few times the animation is played up for comedic effect).

Beer Two

This film isn’t flawless. It unfortunately has some glaring issues to it. The biggest being the voice direction and dialogue. Too many times the voice actors gave the wrong delivery of a line. The director was clearly much better at knowing what to show then what should be heard with it. Helen Bonham Carter could be entirely cut from this movie and it would have improved it over all. She was a narrator who was often stating things that were already being shown. All the proper pacing and storytelling was there, as well as the animation direction. I just wish they had brought on another writer or co-director to make the dialogue better.

Another thing that bugged me was how the war violence had to be muted for the family audience. At one point Stubby gets injured and has no visible wound despite characters saying how bad the wound looks. Though, this issue I am willing to forgive because of the restraints the film had to take into account.

You thought PG-13 violence was too toned down?
Get ready for PG violence!

Verdict

Sgt. Stubby is the second best animated film about dogs to be released in April this year. However, it is far from being forgettable. I would recommend this as a good family film that helps give kids an understanding of war while having a lovable hero for them to root for. The film has a respectable runtime and doesn’t drag in any places. I wouldn’t say you have to see this in theaters, but I would highly recommend a watch once it’s on streaming.

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero (2018) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever Stubby salutes.

Take a Drink: whenever someone puts on a gas mask.

Take a Drink: every time Stubby is let off the hook by a high ranking officer.

Take a Drink: every time someone brings up how brave Stubby is.

Do a Shot: every time the obligatory Eiffel Tower is shown to denote Paris.

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