Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is a lovely animated movie aimed at middle grade children. It’s a historical story about a dog named Stubby who participated in battles on French soil during World War I. In between action scenes are short narrations by a woman named Margaret Conroy (Helena Bonham Carter) who writes to her brother, Robert Conroy (Logan Lerman), while he fights in the war. In these excerpts the narrator sums up some of the history surrounding the war story. The film ends with photographs of the real Stubby and some statistics about the heroics of this brave and intelligent dog. This combination of animal story, history and narration makes for a touching, educational experience, one I think children and their families will find very worthwhile.
Stubby is a stray Staffordshire Bull Terrier who befriends Conroy while he is training to be a soldier in the USA. Despite army regulations disallowing dogs, the friendly, nimble pooch proves himself worthy and is adopted as the base’s mascot. When the troops leave for Europe Stubby sneaks on board the ship and so makes his way to France alongside the soldiers. There he participates in battles, dodging bullets, bombs and gas, sniffing out survivors and foes, and sending warnings to Conroy and his comrades. Stubby is so brave and helpful that he is ‘promoted’ to Sergeant.
Although a little heavy-handed with American propaganda, Sgt. Stubby is an informative, delightful, heartwarming film. I had to dry my tears before I left the theatre.
Sgt. Stubby opens at cinemas in South Africa on 14 September 2018.