Megan Leavey Parent Guide
Like most dog lover’s tales, this story stresses the bonding and healing that can happen through animal and human relationships.
Parent Movie Review
When Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) joined the US Marines it wasn’t because she really wanted to serve her country. It was because she really wanted to get away from her dysfunctional family life and hopeless depression that included alcohol and substance abuse. Consequently, she is not the most dedicated cadet at boot camp. But that changes when she is caught drunk and acting disorderly after a night of heavy partying.
For punishment, she is sent to clean out kennels at the base’s K9 training center. As she watches the handlers work with the dogs who are trained to sniff out explosives, she feels like she has finally found her place in the world. For the first time, she has the motivation to work hard for something – and that effort is rewarded.
The animal assigned to Corporal Leavey is an angry and aggressive German Shepard named Rex. At first, it’s unsure which of the two is the master, yet as Megan’s confidence grows, Rex learns to trust her. By the time the pair are sent for active duty in Iraq, they have become a well bonded team.
While the movie focuses mostly on the relationship between the woman and the dog, there are also a few scenes dedicated to a love interest for Megan (played by Ramon Rodriguez) that feature some passionate kissing and implied sexual activity. However, a greater portion of the film’s runtime depicts the Marine and canine’s active service as they take on the dangerous task of detecting bombs, finding weapons, and facing enemy fire. As is to be expected, these activities involve tense situations, shootouts and explosions, along with injuries and death.
Based on a true story, the script also portrays Megan’s return to civilian life where she is separated from Rex. When she learns that he will be sent back to the front, her concern for the animal’s safety is compounded by her personal war scars, which leads to the return of destructive demons from her past. Eventually Megan realizes the only way she can save herself is to save Rex as well. So, she engages in her biggest battle yet: getting the paperwork approved to adopt her faithful companion.
Like most dog lover’s tales, this story stresses the interconnection that can happen between animals and humans. Whether pet or soldier, Megan’s fight for Rex is a good example of how to honor a war hero. It also barks loudly about the importance of love in healing all wounds.Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Starring Kate Mara, Bradley Whitford, Tom Felton. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release June 9, 2017. Updated May 22, 2019
Watch the trailer for Megan Leavey
Rating & Content Info
Why is Megan Leavey rated PG-13? Megan Leavey is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for war violence, language, suggestive material, and thematic elements.
This film features frequent war violence depicted with little graphic detail. Bombs, weapons, explosions and gunfire result in injuries and deaths (we see bodies thrown through the air or falling to the ground). Tense and suspenseful situations are portrayed. Soldiers yell at and threaten civilians because all are considered suspicious. Death from a drug overdose is mentioned. Characters behave disorderly while drunk. Adults argue with each other and their children. Soldiers yell and use strong discipline at boot camp. Characters are threatened and bitten by dogs.
Mild sexual references and innuendo are heard. A character urinates on a building and another vomits. An unmarried couple embrace and kiss passionately, and are shown in bed together – sexual relations are implied. Characters discuss a divorce that occurred because of infidelity. A woman’s bare shoulders are seen when she showers. Some slang terms are used for bodily functions.
The script includes one use of the sexual expletive in a non-sexual context, frequent scatological slang, mild and moderate profanity, along with terms of deity used as expletives, crude terms and name-calling/slurs.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Characters drink alcohol, sometimes to excess. Smoking is shown. Substance abuse (pills and marijuana) are mentioned: Character engages in this abuse because of depression and hopelessness.
Page last updated May 22, 2019
Megan Leavey Parents' Guide
How does Megan’s family life influence the choices she makes with alcohol, drug use, and her relationships with others? Is she justified in feeling angry with them because of the decisions they have made? Are they justified in feeling angry with her too? Can these kinds of wounds be treated or healed? How?
Megan’s dad gives her some interesting advice about trying and failing – and trying and failing some more. What do you think he means when he tells her that the love he has for her is stronger than what he is not? What things might you be able to accomplish if you focused on the power of your love rather than on your personal weaknesses?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
For another real life story about a soldier and his dog in the Marine K9 teams, you can read Mike Dowling’s memoir, Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog. This book shares their experience in Iraq as Rex sniffs out weapons, suicide bombers and IEDs.
In Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca, Maria Goodavage shares the story of Lucca K458, a decorated canine veteran of over 400 missions.
Jennifer Li Shotz has written a novel about military service dogs geared at older kids and middle school readers. Max: Best Friend, Hero, Marine features a dog who is traumatized when his handler dies. Returned stateside, Max goes to live with the family of the dead Marine. But both Max and the family have painful issues to deal with and need each other to heal.
News About "Megan Leavey"
Learn more about the real Megan Leavey.
From the Studio: Based on the true life story of a young Marine Corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. When she is assigned to clean up the K9 unit after a disciplinary hearing, Leavey identifies with a particularly aggressive dog, Rex, and is given the chance to train him. Over the course of their service, Megan and Rex completed more than 100 missions until an IED explosion injures them, putting their fate in jeopardy. Written by Bleecker Street
The most recent home video release of Megan Leavey movie is September 5, 2017. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Megan Leavey
Release Date: 5 September 2017
Meagan Leavey releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with the following supplement:
- Never Give Up Featurette.
Related home video titles:
Other canine heroes are depicted in A Dog’s Purpose, Max and Far From Home: The Adventures Of Yellow Dog.