Koko: A Red Dog Story is a documentary about the Australian kelpie, Koko, who was the main canine actor in the 2011 Australian movie, Red Dog. Red Dog was based on Louis de Bernières’ best-selling true story of an Australian cattle dog who travelled through Western Australia in the search of his missing master in the 1970s.
Koko: A Red Dog Story consists of original and personal footage, TV clippings, animated scenes and interviews with people who knew Koko. These include his first owner and breeder Carol Hobday, Red Dog director Kriv Stenders, producer Nelson Woss, and lead actor Josh Lucas. The movie also features re-enacted scenes starring Felix Williamson (playing Woss), Toby Truslove (playing Stenders), and Sarah Woods (playing Carol Hobday).
Narrated by Jason Isaacs, this documentary follows Koko from puppyhood to his brief but successful career as a show dog and his casting in the movie Red Dog. It also covers the filming of Red Dog and Koko’s subsequent fame, as well as his death and ongoing legacy.
The special bond between people and dogs; challenges of training and filming with animals; love and friendship; the lessons that animals can teach us
No violence is noted in Koko: A Red Dog Story.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Koko: A Red Dog Story shows some use of substances. For example:
- Stenders takes lots of antihistamines for his allergy to dogs.
- Stenders puts his hand in a pot of medicinal cream to treat an allergic reaction to Koko licking his hand.
Nudity and sexual activity
Koko: A Red Dog Story has some mild and infrequent coarse language. For example:
- The word ‘bitch’ is used and explained as the technical term for a female dog, but not as a swear word.
- A character says, ‘You better do a bloody good job’.
- There are a couple of scenes when someone uses a swear word, but the word is beeped out.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Koko: A Red Dog Story is an entertaining, heart-warming and often funny tribute to a dog that touched people’s hearts across Australia and beyond. This documentary will probably appeal to dog lovers and people who know the original story or its related books and movies.
This movie is suitable for a general family audience but it might lack interest for very young children. Also, the emotional scenes might be upsetting for anyone who understands what it means to lose a loved companion. This is why we recommend parental guidance for children up to eight years. It’s worth knowing that, despite its sad scenes, Koko: A Red Dog Story ends on a positive note, celebrating Koko’s life and legacy.
The main messages from this movie are that animals, just like humans, have their own personalities and characters, and that the bond between people and dogs can be a very strong and special one.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:
- giving unconditional love and friendship
- cherishing happy times
- living in the moment
- being grateful for moments shared with loved ones
- keeping a loved one’s memory alive.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- not being embarrassed to feel strong emotions
- understanding that adults get sad sometimes too
- accepting that sad things happen sometimes
- cherishing happy memories.