Director: Richard Lanni
Cast: Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter, Gérard Depardieu
Watch Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW TV / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play / Sky Store
It’s not often you see a family movie about World War I, certainly not in this age of superheroes and Pixar sequels. Why would kids want to watch a film about real life conflict? Or history, for that matter? But Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero lives up to its title to become a surprisingly charming animated affair.
The movie follows the real life story of a young mutt from New Haven, Connecticut, who falls in with 102nd Infantry as they trained in the local football stadium. Drawn to a young private, Robert Conroy (Logan Lerman), the pair end up inseparable, as Stubby follows him through training, on to the boat shipping him out and even into the trenches in France. It’s not long until the troops welcome him into the fold, giving him his nickname and training him to salute.
If that sounds like Skippy the Kangaroo, you can rest assured that Stubby’s depicted with more canine character than your typical animated critter, and his determination to keep Conroy safe and alive prompts most of his behaviour – well, that and playing fetch with anything that comes near him. Apparently capable of endearing himself to every army officer he meets – a believable chance for light relief to many troopers – by the time he’s running through a village warning everyone about incoming mustard gas, you’re already on board with the whole idea.
Dictated by actual events, the plot isn’t much to write home about, and the animation is more simple than stunning, but Sgt Stubby digs out a groove that works very well: battle sequences zoom out to show us cartoon tanks on a map, while the wounded being dragged to safety by soldier’s best friend are never graphic or inappropriate. The result is part-text book facts, part-cuddly dog adventure, making for a history lesson that doesn’t feel like studying and a brisk 80-minute movie that uses its lightweight nature to its advantage.
Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £11.99 Sky Cinema Month Pass subscription – with a 7-day free trial.
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