Story

Fisk Junior (Jeremy Northam) spends every Thursday trying to connect with his elderly, insensitive father, Fisk Senior (Peter O’Toole). It is on one such Thursday that a chance encounter at a seminar about reincarnation leads to an unlikely acquaintance between Fisk Junior, the adventurous scallywag Wrather (Bryan Brown), and the religious Dean Spanley (Sam Neill). Spanley believes that he used to be a dog. Over a series of dinners and conversations with the Dean, Fisk learns far more about reincarnation than he bargained for. In the process, he is able to help heal his father’s wounded heart.

Themes

Death; reincarnation; family relationships

Violence

There is some violence in this movie. For example:

  • Fisk Senior’s childhood dog, Wag, is shot, along with another dog. Their actual deaths are not shown. We see only a shadowy man aiming a rifle and a shot ringing out.
  • Fisk Junior’s brother dies in the Boer War. There are flashbacks to him sitting on horseback with a gun and later images of him lying dead in a field.

Content that may disturb children 

Under 8

Apart from the scenes described above, there is nothing in this film that is likely to disturb children in this age group.

Over 8

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie. For example, Wrather tells Fisk Junior that wine loosens the corsets as well as the morals of women.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

There is some use of substances in this movie. For example, alcohol is used frequently throughout the film.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie. For example, in a gentlemen’s club, there is a painting of a woman with bare breasts.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Dean Spanley is an interesting drama, containing frequent, subtle humour that is likely to appeal to adults and older teenagers. Most children under 13 are unlikely to be interested in the film because of the lack of action and constant conversation or narration.