The career of Sgt. Stubby — the most decorated dog in American history — serves as the basis for the first CG feature based on a true story. Complaints against contemporary animation have become rote, starting with the flat, cookie-cutter characterizations: instead of flesh and blood creations, the pencil-neck WWI doughboys suggest polyvinyl chloride windsocks. (Purists will find more to explore in the rolling hills of French ally Gaston’s boundless face.) The big question: why animate when the story would have worked just as well with actors? (Possible answer: writer/director Richard Lanni wanted to reach an entirely different audience through animation.) The smaller question: isn’t this just a kiddie-sized recruitment film? (Considering the time period, it would have been disingenuous to hammer home an anti-war message.) Still: just because an animated feature doesn’t carry the Disney/Pixar stamp of approval doesn’t mean it’s bad. I’m glad to report that I not only saw the tale of a soldier and his loyal pooch through to the end; at one point, I used a shirt cuff to blot away the wet eyes. (2018) — Scott Marks
This movie is not currently in theaters.