CGIFeature Film

‘Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero’ Aims For A Different Look And Feel In U.S. Theatrical Animation

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, the debut feature from Georgia-based Fun Academy Motion Pictures, has a new trailer.

The film will open April 13 on approximately 3,000 screens across the U.S. and Canada. Its release is timed with the year-long 100th commemoration of the United States’ role in World War I, famously known as the “War to End All Wars.”

If the trailer doesn’t make it clear, Sgt. Stubby is unlike anything else in the U.S. feature animation market. The family film, about the unbreakable bond between a young soldier and a stray dog, is rooted in true history – Sgt. Stubby was an actual dog who saw frontline action in 17 battles, was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the U.S. Army, and became an American media celebrity after he returned from Europe in 1918.

Sgt. Stubby is directed by documentarian Richard Lanni, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Mike Stokey II (Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Alexander, Born on the Fourth of July). Other key creative contributions include an original score by Patrick Doyle (Brave, Thor, Cinderella, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), editing by Mark Solomon (Frankenweenie, Chicken Run, Shark Tale), and voice acting by Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter, and Gérard Depardieu. The film is produced by Laurent Rodon and Emily Cantrill; and executive produced by Frank Lumpkin III, Tom Sheehan, and Richard Lanni.

Mikros Animation, which produced the animation for Captain Underpants and The Little Prince, as well as the upcoming Sherlock Gnomes, created the animation for Sgt. Stubby, primarily out of its studio in Montreal, Canada.

I was able to get a preview of some scenes from the film recently, and Sgt. Stubby feels different tonally from U.S. studio fare. It’s gentler, quieter, more naturalistic, and less snarky than a lot of what we’re used to seeing from the majors. A lot of its humor stems from the funny dog behavior of Stubby, whose antics will be relatable to anyone who owns a dog. Fun Academy, in fact, has partnered with over 70 regional and national animal organizations to help spread awareness of the film to pet owners, and to also promote the message that adopted animals are capable of amazing achievements if they’re given a chance in life.

The film’s historical bonafides have also led to it being chosen as an official project of the United States World War One Centennial Commission and its French counterpart, La Mission du Centenaire 1914-18. Additional endorsements and educational partners include the Connecticut State Library, the National Infantry Museum Foundation, the National World War I Museum & Memorial, and the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes.

The real Sgt. Stubby in 1919. (Photo courtesy of the Division of Military History, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution)