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DVD Review: Brian Levant’s Snow Dogs on Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Snow Dogs gets the hearty DVD treatment even though someone should have thrown this film to the dogs.


Snow Dogs

Tailor-made for the undiscriminating Christian, Snow Dogs is full of good ol’ family values so bland and uncinematic that the film could be resold as a very special episode of 7th Heaven. Minus the snarling poodle that resides next to his Miami apartment, dentist Ted Brooks (Cuba Gooding Jr.) lives a carefree existence, showcasing his toothy grin and fondness for Michael Bolton. Horrified yet? The film’s Miami is Southern comfort for the dork sector (think Revenge of the Nerds starring Sisqo), while its sitcom Alaska is straight out of Out Cold. Ted discovers he’s adopted and heads to the icy land of tooth decay to claim his biological mother’s inheritance. There he tames a few uppity pooches and gets personal with his crotchety white daddy (James Coburn). Disney’s trailer would like you to believe that Ted’s snow dogs are of the talking kind. They speak all right, but only in one lame-brained hallucination sequence where the lounging canines are ceremoniously one-upped by Janet Jackson lookalike Joanna Bacalso’s furry bikini. Forget the warm and cuddly family values; they’re the least of film’s problems. Snow Dogs is trailer-trash cinema so uncool the only thing missing is the “Gadzooks!” After last year’s Rat Race, Snow Dogs finds Gooding officially going AWOL in B-movie land.


The snow looks great on Buena Vista’s Snow Dogs DVD. The transfer is impressive if only because the color palette looks considerably less mundane than it did on the big screen. The film’s Miami sequences are notably vibrant while much of the Alaskan locales are quaintly dreary. John Debney’s bubbly score feels more at home on the small screen thanks to lush, relatively non-aggressive DTS 5.1 soundtrack.


For about five seconds I was kind of eager to check out “Ted’s Arctic Challenge,” a set-top game where you get to drive a snow-mobile around using the arrows on your DVD’s remote control, until I discovered that no button on my remote control would make the snow-mobile move. On “Chillin’ With The Actors,” director Brian Levant calls Cuba Gooding Jr. a “potent acting weapon” and a clearly insane Nichelle Nichols recalls how she threatened to kill the film’s producer if she didn’t get to play the role of Gooding’s mother in the film. On “Going To The Dogs,” Brian Levant calls himself the “stupidest guy around” for liking to make films with so many dogs and children. On “Toketna On Ice,” Levant and his crew discuss how they built an Alaskan town in Alberta, Canada. And while Levant’s voice on the disc’s commentary track is liable to cause harm to most dogs and children, the man clearly knows what sells. When he first read the Snow Dogs screenplay, he saw Disney all over it (though probably not the $80 million the film would go on to make). Also included on this DVD edition of the film are deleted and extended scenes and a sneak peak section with trailers for Return to Neverland, Beauty and the Beast and Monsters, Inc..


Snow Dogs gets the hearty DVD treatment even though someone should have thrown this film to the dogs.

Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr., James Coburn, Joanna Bacalso, Nichelle Nichols, M. Emmet Walsh, Brian Doyle-Murray, Graham Greene, Sisqo Director: Brian Levant Screenwriter: Mark Gibson, Michael Goldberg, Jim Kouf, Tommy Swerdlow Distributor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment Running Time: 97 min Rating: PG Year: 2002 Release Date: May 14, 2002 Buy: Video

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