Nearly two years in the making, an animated film focusing on the World War I exploits of a mutt off the streets of New Haven, Conn., made its debut in U.S. theaters on Thursday.
“Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” produced by Columbus-based Fun Academy Motion Pictures, is scheduled to appear on about 3,000 screens across the U.S. and in Canada.
It tells the true story of a dog befriended by a World War I soldier, then smuggled aboard a troop ship to Europe, where the canine becomes a highly decorated war veteran, saving lives along the way. He is promoted to sergeant and returns to the U.S. a hero.
“Stubby is the ultimate zero-to-hero story,” Fun Academy founder and producer Richard Lanni has said of the idea behind the wartime animated family film. “There is no greater poster boy for what animals can do when given a chance in life, regardless of their origins.”
Screenings of “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” began in March in Los Angeles, with a showing there benefiting children’s charities. There have been several more across the nation with proceeds going to humane societies. A showing also has taken place in New Haven, Conn., the hometown of the hero pooch.
PAWS Humane, the animal shelter on Milgen Road, scheduled its own special screening on Thursday evening, with ticket proceeds going to the facility that houses and takes care of both dogs and cats.
A private red-carpet screening of “Sgt. Stubby” also took place Wednesday night in the hallowed halls of the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, located just outside the Fort Benning’s Benning Boulevard security gate.
A check of AMC Theatres’ ticket website shows “Sgt. Stubby” was available for viewing at theaters in Columbus and elsewhere on Thursday, setting up what Fun Academy Motion Pictures hopes will be a big weekend for the movie.
“Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” runs 85 minutes and is rated PG. Its voice stars include Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu. The animation production took place in France and Canada, with Technicolor’s Mikros Image operation handling the work.
Reviews popping up Thursday online indicate the dog-hero movie is a family film, indeed, but without some of the suspense and many of the special-effects bells and whistles delivered by other studios such as Disney and Pixar.
“Animated war-dog-tale is good but too light,” says the Seattle Times. “Sgt. Stubby” is an endearing tale of canine courage under fire,” according to the Kansas City Star. “An unlikely Hero tells a fine story but shrinks from the horrors of war,” writes the Toronto Star. Says the Lewiston Tribune, “Tale of heroic dog Sgt. Stubby deserves heftier treatment.”