Dave Douglas (Tim Allen) is an ambitious lawyer who has hopes of becoming the next district attorney. In the process, he has lost touch with his family – his wife (Kristen Davis), daughter Carly (Zena Grey) and son Josh (Spencer Breslin).
Dave is currently prosecuting an animal liberation protestor for attempting to set fire to the laboratory of a large drug company. Carly believes in animal liberation and is part of the demonstration against the same company. To this end, she sneaks off with her boyfriend with the intention of rescuing the animals from the building. Once inside they find a big English sheepdog whom they call ‘Shaggy’. Carly takes Shaggy home where he bites Dave. The bite gives Dave a mutant virus that turns him into a dog. Dave then shifts between being a man and a dog in a seemingly random pattern. As a dog, he learns important lessons about his client and the importance of his family.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
An electric probe is used to stun Shaggy, Dave Douglas and the scientists who work in the lab.
Content that may disturb children
- The transformation of a parent into a dog could be disturbing for young children.
- Shaggy is locked up in a metal cage and kept in an unpleasant-looking lab.
- Two scientists are going to give Shaggy a huge injection, with the intention of hurting him.
- Shaggy is recaptured then restrained with a metal muzzle that looks very unpleasant. He whines and looks sad.
- Animals at the lab are kept in cages and look unhappy.
Younger children in this age group could also be upset by the scenes described above. This is because they can understand the implications of what the scientists are going to do. They could also be concerned by the following scenes:
- In the form of a dog, Dave is captured, put in a cage and threatened by scientists.
- Dr Kozak, one of the senior executives, gives an older man, the current CEO, an injection that paralyses him.
Children in this age group will not be disturbed by any scenes in this movie.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
Dave Douglas drives a BMW.
This movie contains some mild coarse language and distasteful comments.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Shaggy Dog is a typical Disney film, with competent acting and a fairly mundane storyline. It is primarily a movie about good versus evil, where good triumphs in the end. Along the way, the family learns how to be a family again. The movie also highlights the need to communicate with other people rather than acting in isolation. The other message that comes through strongly is the need to stand up for what you believe.
You might like to talk about these issues with your child as well as the values depicted in the movie. These include loyalty, friendship, family values and belief in yourself. You could also talk about the issue of animal liberation.