Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
Starring: Jack Warden, Jeremy James Kissner, Jesse James, Jon Voight, Cheryl Ladd | Directed by Kevin Brodie | Produced by Frank Yablans | Written by Kevin Brodie, Robert Singer | Distributed by Warner Bros
It is a tough world for those who attempt to make a good family film. “A Dog of Flanders” is just that. It fits most of the criteria for a family film. What makes it difficult is that the “sweet” and “sentimental” are often overlooked. I almost overlooked those qualities myself. Many of the reviews were not fair to “A Dog of Flanders”, a film which stands as proof that a family choice movie doesn’t need to have a “kid’s meal” to hype it up.
The film is based on the 1874 classic children’s book by author Louisa “Ouida” de la Ramee. It is a heartwarming story of a boy, a dog, and his grandfather. Set in the early 19th century, Nello, orphaned, is taken in by his grandfather. The grandfather (Jack Warden) inspires the Nello to develop his artistic talent.
The film reflects solid values. It covers true happiness and exposes greed. Nello’s grandfather even reminds him that his gift is from God. Nello reminds young people that you can be polite, honest, positive, and passionate. There are very few objections in this film.
Minimal sex, language, and use of alcohol make an almost perfect family film. The film does deal with the subject of eternity. The biblical view may be clouded, but it does open the door for a scriptural discussion. It deserves our support. It may not be one of the best films ever produced, but I must applaud every attempt to bring back true family films.