I’m always a bit hesitant when I go and to see a movie about a dog as they can often be too silly or too tragic. Based on the trailers, I thought it might have a similar story to Balto, which seemed appealing to me. While most of the film is set in a cold climate, it’s not a film about diverting disaster. This film is about the development of the dog Buck. While it had a slow start, it’s overall an enjoyable film that I think most children would enjoy barring a few intense scenes.
The film starts off somewhere in the American South at an unspecified date. We see Buck roaming the town and then he returns home to his master’s home. Buck ruins a feast they were preparing and so Judge Miller (Bradley Whitford) has Buck sleep outside. A stranger arrives in the middle of the night and lures Buck with food. Buck climbs into the back of their wagon and is trapped. Buck is transported via train and boat, while taught to fear his captors. Buck is brought to be sold in the Yukon area of Canada.
As Buck is lead around the town, he bumps into a John Thornton (Harrison Ford). Buck sees John dropped his harmonica and breaks free long enough to return it to him. Buck is soon sold to a new master named Perrault (Omar Sy) who uses a dog sled team to deliver the mail along with his wife Françoise (Cara Gee). Buck doesn’t understand how to pull a sled at first, but he starts to see some sort of inner wolf that leads him to follow his instincts. Buck comes to help the other dogs as he sees the current pack leader leads out of fear. One day Françoise falls into some ice and Buck races to save her. Saving Francoise amongst other changes shows that Buck is ready to be a valuable member of the pack.
I didn’t know this film was based on a novel called Call of the Wild by Jack London. That helps to explain to me why Buck’s life is told like a series of adventures rather than just being a singular conflict. I do find it appealing that it’s told as a self-exploration story from Buck’s perspective and we see how much the character changes from beginning to end. I would recommend this film to people who want to see a story about the adventures of a dog. While it does have some intense scenes, I do think most children would enjoy it. The story has a few silly moments, but it’s mostly a film about the character exploration of Buck. Rated PG.