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Snow Dogs

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Snow Dogs

Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., James Coburn
Director: Brian Levant
Rated: PG
RunTime: 99 Minutes
Release Date: January 2002
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Kids

*Also starring: Jean-Michel Pare, Sisqo, Nichelle Nichols, M. Emmet Walsh, Joanna Bacalso, Brian Doyle-Murray, Graham Greene, Michael Bolton, Jim Belushi

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

SNOW DOGS is a dog. Brian Levant's SNOW DOGS, whose script, based on Gary Paulsen's novel, took no less than five writers to finish, is an aptly named flick. January is the month when the studios like to dump their dogs, and this film is a real mutt. An almost laugh-an-hour comedy, it stars two Academy Award winning actors, Cuba Gooding, Jr. (JERRY MAGUIRE) and James Coburn (AFFLICTION), who go slumming in a picture that Disney should have released directly to their cable channel.

Gooding plays Dr. Ted Brooks, a wealthy Miami dentist whose mug graces the side of local buses. After discovering that he was adopted, he goes to the extremely remote town of Tolketna, Alaska, where his birth mother has just died. Besides inheriting her little cabin, he also gets a bunch of sled dogs who like nothing better than ripping his clothes apart and attacking him. The leader of the pack is a vicious dog with the appropriate name of Demon.

This fish-out-of-water story has Gooding chew up the scenery with lots of pratfalls and general silliness, none of which are funny. Typical of the humor is an incident in which Ted packs the rear of his pants with straw in order to thwart Demon's bites. Any bets on whether Ted and Demon will end up best buds? And do you think that there might be a sled dog race in the offing?

Coburn plays a crusty eccentric named Thunder Jack, so called because he was struck twice by thunder and lived. (Get it? Thunder, not lightning. That's about as good as the jokes get.) Jack is a weird guy with an obvious secret.

Comedies work best when they're credible. SNOW DOGS features a hypothermia-free Alaska. When Ted falls into freezing water and gets soaked, he is able to pull himself out and then trudge through a blizzard without much harm.

The only thing that SNOW DOGS has going for it is the breathtaking scenery. The magnificent view -- actually Canada, not Alaska -- doesn't get the screen time it deserves, but, of course, it never won an Oscar.

SNOW DOGS runs 1:39. It is rated PG for "mild crude humor" and would be acceptable for all ages.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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