What could have been solely a fun movie for kids that would get my highest recommendation is damaged by a dark and disturbing message hidden, not so subtly between the fluffy dogs and glamorous parties of the show dog lifestyle.
As part of any dog show, contestants are judged on their abilities and physical attributes. One part, in particular, is the inspection of the dog’s private parts. Being that Max is new to competing, he needs to learn the process so his partner, Frank, along with a former show champion work to get him ready for the final round of the competition. Since the inspection of the private parts will happen in the finals, Frank touches Max’s private parts to get him use to it. Of course, Max doesn’t like it and snaps at Frank for him to stop. Max is then told by the former champion, who has been through the process before, that he needs to go to his “zen place” while it happens so he can get through it. More attempts are made by Frank to touch Max’s private parts, but Max is still having trouble letting it happen and keeps snapping at him.
The day of the finals come and if Max doesn’t let his private parts be touched, he may lose the competition and any hope of finding the kidnapped panda. It all rests on his ability to let someone touch his private parts. The judge’s hands slowly reach behind Max and he goes to his “zen place”. He’s flying through the sky, dancing with his partner, there are fireworks and flowers-everything is great-all while someone is touching his private parts.
During the movie, I kept thinking, “This is wrong, it doesn’t need to be in a kids movie. Everything else in the movie is good fun except for this.” Afterward, my husband mentioned that he picked up on this message too, as did my mother who saw the movie with us. My daughter, on the other hand, said her favorite part of the movie was when Max got his privates touched and the funny reaction he had.
I decided to use that moment to help reinforce what we have taught our children since they were little, private parts are just that, private. We talked about how I didn’t feel that part needed to be in the movie. We talked about how we never let anyone touch our private parts, what they should do if anyone tries. We reinforced that if anyone tries to touch their private parts or asks them to touch their private parts they should talk to us about that. We talked about different ways children can feel pressured to participate in those types of behaviors. A child predator is usually known to the child, rarely are they a stranger.
We talked about bribes or threats, we discussed the fact that that type of behavior is not a game, we reminded them the same rules apply to kids as well as adults. Approximately one-third of offenders are themselves juveniles, with 23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18 and only 14% of children who suffered sexual abuse were violated by an unknown perpetrator. (Victimsofcrime.org) Although you cannot prepare a child for every situation the more knowledge you give them the stronger their defenses are!
That’s extremely creepy. Hollywood, man. Hollywood. “If you let the gatekeepers to fame and fortune touch your privates, you’ll be a winner, kids!”