As a writer for Rotoscopers I take the calling of animation addict very seriously. Anyone can be fans of Disney and DreamWorks films, but I believe we as hard-core animation fans should do better. We should be leaders in celebrating the art-form and hunting down the small projects that deserve broader appeal. It is with this in mind, that I try to find several indies each year that I can champion and encourage those around me to see. One of those small films this year is an American-made charmer, Sgt Stubby: An American Hero. Produced by the new Fun Academy Studios and distributed by Paramount, Sgt Stubby is available starting December 11th on Bluray/DVD/Digital and it is a perfect gift for your entire family this holiday season.
Based on a true story, Sgt Stubby is about a young US Army ‘doughboy’ named Robert Conroy who while in basic training for WW1, meets a stray dog named Stubby. His regiment of soldiers decides to adopt the dog as they train outside of Yale University and then the dog sneaks on to their ship traveling with them to Europe. He becomes a meaningful companion to Robert Conroy but also to the other civilians and soldiers he meets. Our little dog even saves lives and becomes the most decorated dog in American history obtaining the rank of Sergeant.
There are many things that impressed me about this movie. First, they made the wise decision to not have Stubby talk. This must have been very tempting given the popularity of cute talking creatures like the Minions but they stuck with a real dog story. They also did a great job managing tone. A film about war for children is tricky. Make it too intense and the little ones will be traumatized but make it too fluffy and it trivializes the sacrifices the soldiers made. The makers of Sgt Stubby walked that line very well.
They also got a nice voice cast with Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu all doing great work. I was also very impressed with the music by acclaimed composer Patrick Doyle. It is a beautiful and subtle score. I also liked the color palate with its cgi/watercolor feel to it. It helps draw the viewer into the story and feel invested in the journey of both man and dog.
Bonus Features ✮✮✮
Fortunately Sgt Stubby provides 4 decent bonus features as part of the Bluray/DVD purchase.
- The Making of a Hero: Behind the Scenes– A 14 minute featurette that goes into the storyboarding, modeling, voice acting, and more behind making Sgt Stubby: An American Hero
- Animating History: the Art of Sgt. Stubby – A 2 minute slideshow of the art of in various phases of Sgt Stubby set to music and clips from the film.
- Real to Reel: The True Story of Sgt Stubby – A 5 minute featurette where the creators and actors talk about the true story of the Sgt Stubby dog. I was really surprised that some stuff like Stubby saluting was true!
- Memoriae Tuae: Historical Image Gallery– A 2 minute slideshow with narration explaining WW1 with historical images and video
In 2018 we remember the 100 year anniversary of the end of WW1. This was the ‘war to end all wars’ and those who fought in it paid a terrible price. With Sgt Stubby: An American Hero the filmmakers have managed to portray that price, while still making the film palatable and appropriate for children. It was no small task, and I think it is a film families should see together and talk about. It will both inform and entertain, and I hope you will seek it out now that it is on DVD/Bluray/Digital
Did you get a chance to see Sgt Stubby: An American Hero? What did you think of it? If you get to see it on Bluray/DVD/Digital let us know in the comments what you think