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
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
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
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