Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero
Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero is a heartfelt, action-packed family movie that has the heart and maturity to grapple with some surprisingly heavy topics. Set during World War One and based upon a true story, this film follows a stray dog who grows attached to soldier Robert Conroy. The lovable pooch, christened “Stubby” by Conroy, follows the American troops to war and quickly becomes the regiment’s mascot due to his loyalty, valour, selflessness and unrelenting service. Throughout the flick, Stubby and Conroy make friends and narrowly escape enemies, dedicated both to the Allies, and to each other.
This is remarkably different from other children’s movies dominating the market. It deals with morality and mortality in a somehow sophisticated manner. Poisonous gas, bombs and guns are used by both warring factions, but death is usually merely implied, rather than shown in its gruesome detail. For instance, Stubby finds one supporting character’s helmet with a bullet hole through the front, although the dead comrade himself is not shown.
The film explores different colour palettes and animation styles to depict various emotions and time periods. For example, there is a stark contrast between the yellow tinge of war and battle scenes, and the bright colours of the pre- and post-war periods. When deadly, arduous, massive battles are shown, the typically realistic animation switches styles to a period-accurate pop-art, cartoon style map with explosions seen from overhead. Additionally, the movie is centred on Stubby, so it is particularly evocative at certain moments when the war is seen from his perspective. The characters are rendered semi-realistically, although there is a peculiar lack of fluidity in their motions. However, the enormous, expressive pupils and exaggerated facial expressions make it easier for children to empathise with them and follow the story.
Sgt Stubby is certainly sincere, and presents a number of topics for children of varying ages to reflect upon. It is worth noting that this film can be poignant and even upsetting, as it deals with a difficult time in contemporary history and therefore may not be appropriate for fun family viewing. However, it is carefully and thoughtfully made, with rich storytelling and narration that complement the overarching themes. Sgt Stubby is worthy of captivating all ages, despite its inherent maturity.
Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero is released nationwide on 10th August 2018.
Watch the trailer for Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero here: