Red Dog: True Blue is a prequel to Red Dog. It opens with Michael Carter (Jason Isaacs) taking his two young sons to the cinema to see the original movie. When Michael’s young son Theo asks his dad why the movie made him cry, Michael tells his son that he was the original owner of Red Dog when he was a young boy. From this point on the story is told as a flashback, beginning in 1969 when Michael Carter is a young boy known as Mick (Levi Miller).
Mick’s life is turned upside down when his father dies and his mother has a nervous breakdown. This leaves no-one to care for Mick. As a result Mick is shipped off to an outback cattle station owned by his strict but sensitive grandfather (Brian Brown). Mick easily slips into his new life and is well-liked by the station’s colourful characters. But Mick’s greatest companion and teacher comes along in the form of a mud-covered kelpie pup stranded up a tree after a cyclone. Mick rescues the pup and calls him Blue. He and Blue become fast friends.
A year later Mick and Blue are inseparable and happily roaming the countryside. This all changes when Mick’s grandfather decides that Mick’s education is lacking. He brings in a young and attractive tutor named Betty (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) to help with Mick’s studies. Mick is instantly smitten with Betty but finds that he isn’t the only one vying for her attention. This situation leads to him making some bad choices, which he has to set right.
Unfortunately all good stories come to an end and Mick, like all station-dwelling children, is sent to boarding school. With Mick gone, Blue refuses to stay at the station and begins his roving adventures as Red Dog.
Death of a parent; mental illness; relationships
Red Dog: True Blue has some violence. For example:
- An enraged horse chases Mick. It rears up over him and stamps its hooves on the ground. Mick escapes the enraged horse by outrunning it and then jumping over a fence.
- Two men play-fight and wrestle each other to the ground.
- A dog repeatedly growls and snaps at a man who tries to sit on the same couch as him.
- As a punishment Mick’s grandfather smacks a pre-teen boy several times on the buttocks. We don’t see the physical act, but we see a closed door and hear the sounds of several loud smacks. In a later scene the boy pulls down the top of his pants to reveal several red marks on his upper buttocks.
- Mick is jealous of a young man’s attentions towards Betty. Mick verbally argues with the man and then challenges him to a fight.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Red Dog: True Blue has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- One scene shows a man crying while watching a movie at a cinema.
- One scary scene shows several adults and a young boy in a house while a cyclone rages outside. There are roaring winds, crashes and bangs, and a sheet of corrugated iron crashes through a window. The bot sits under the dining table for protection and the boy’s grandfather tells his grandson how strong the house is. The boy asks his grandfather if they’re going to die.
- Several scenes show an enraged horse with crazed eyes. One of the horse’s eye is blind and only shows white. We hear how the horse went crazy after being struck by lightning, and there’s a brief image of the horse being hit by a bolt of lightning and collapsing to the ground. In a later scene we hear that the horse has been killed by another bolt of lightning. There’s an image of the horse lying dead on the ground.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Red Dog: True Blue has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- A man tells his young sons how his father died suddenly when he was a young boy. There’s a brief flashback image of a funeral at a gravesite.
- There are references to a young boy’s mother suffering a mental breakdown that requires her to be hospitalised.
- In one scene there are references to deadly animals, including crocodiles, death adder snakes and red-back spiders.
- Following a cyclone, Mick finds a puppy covered in blue mud stranded in a tree. The puppy looks scared but isn’t hurt.
- Two men show off their body scars. One man’s scars are on his stomach and are the result of time spent in Vietnam. The second man’s scars are like welts across his chest and are the result of traditional Aboriginal practices.
- The movie has a couple of scenes inside a cave. The cave is described as a sacred site and has a forbidden, magical and supernatural feel about it. There are glowing lights, eerie sounds and so on.
- A raging bushfire heads towards a homestead. Several men with wet bags try to smother small fires. The homestead is in danger of burning down. But the wind changes direction and the fire burns itself out. People are covered in black ash, but no injuries are shown.
- Mick is distressed and upset when he’s forced to leave his dog behind. He cries as the dog runs after him.
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Red Dog: True Blue has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example, characters tell a story that involves a traditional magic man, murder, shooting, people chained to a tree, and a witch doctor using a stone to curse people to death.
Nothing of concern
Red Dog: True Blue has occasional low-level sexual innuendo and references throughout. For example:
- A young man tells a young woman not to be afraid of lonely men on a lonely land. The young woman says that she likes lonely.
- A man driving on an outback road stops his vehicle when he sees a dog sitting in the middle of the road. The man opens the ute’s door and the dog jumps into the car, sitting on the seat next to the driver. The driver then looks at the side of the road and sees several female dogs. The driver looks at the dog sitting next to him and says, ‘You sly devil – that’s what you’ve been doing out here’.
- Blue steals female underwear from a clothesline. He eats some pants and gets tangled up in a bra.
- There’s a suggestion that two characters who are supposed to be brothers aren’t brothers and are actually involved in a gay relationship.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Red Dog: True Blue occasionally shows alcohol and characters drinking alcohol. For example, two men sit at a dinner table, each with a half-glass of beer. One man asks, ‘Haven’t you got anything stronger?’. One of the men puts a bottle of scotch on the table and pours two glasses.
Nudity and sexual activity
Red Dog: True Blue contains brief partial nudity. For example:
- A young man who’s getting an injection wants to impress a young woman. Rather than rolling up his sleeve, he removes his shirt and shows the muscles in his chest and arms.
- Some scenes show characters flirting.
- A young woman in brief shorts repeatedly bends over while a boy and young man watch her.
- A young woman briefly kisses a young man on the lips.
- A young woman lies on a rug on the ground with a man lying on one side and a boy on the other. Simultaneously both the boy and the man hold one of the girl’s hands as a romantic gesture. When the young man looks over and sees that the boy is holding the woman’s other hand, he looks at the boy and says, ‘Mate, we need to talk’. The boy and the man argue, and the boy challenges the young man to a fight.
Nothing of concern
Red Dog: True Blue has some low-level coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Red Dog: True Blue is a comedy drama about the friendship between a boy and his dog. True Blue connects well with its predecessor while offering a completely new story full of humour, sadness and compassion.
It’s an entertaining movie for most of the family, although there are themes and scenes that are likely to disturb younger children. It’s therefore not recommended for children under 11 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 11-13 years.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- For a child, a relationship with an animal can be very important.
- Life can be sad at times, but we get to keep the good memories.
- Owning up to our responsibilities and mistakes is important.
You could talk with your children about how the movie tackles the issue of land rights, sacred sites and Aboriginal artefacts.