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The Captive
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, November 27, 2014 - Edition No 925 

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SNOW DOGS

SYNOPSIS:
Ted Brooks (Cuba Gooding jnr) is a high profile Miami dentist, but when he learns he’s come into an inheritance in Alaska, he jets north, only to find out that the estate is mostly a team of sled dogs. The will also reveals his real roots, but he has a hard time adjusting to the Alaskan small town, where Thunder Jack (James Coburn) covets the dogs and Barbara (Joanna Bacalso) knows the skeletons in the cupboard that might just rattle Ted.


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I’ll get the pun out of the way right at the top; it’s a bit mushy, but bearably so, in the hands of Beethoven and The Flintstones director Brian Levant. The Husky dogs are delightful and the sled scenes spectacular, and ‘mush mush’ is kept to a minimum. Cuba Gooding jnr is a good choice for a comedic hero, capable of breathing cred into the most plastic of scenarios. This is a family film like they used to make, where the humour balances the drama, the personal tragedies are life lessons and the animals are so darn cute, by golly. But get thee behind me, cynic, I did actually enjoy the snow-capped mountains and sock-fitted dogs, as well as the lovely Joanna Bacalso as the tamest love interest on screen for ages. While there’s nothing to offend you except perhaps the excess of an expertly sculptured politically correctness, Snow Dogs has enough heart to warm yours. (Oh all right, and mine.)

Review by Louise Keller:
I love films set in wintry white settings. I guess it’s a way of enjoying the snowy beauty without the chilblains or the blue nose. Whether it’s a chilling thriller like A Simple Plan, or a feel good family film such as Cool Runnings, the weather conditions impact on us as well as just on the storyline. Slippery ice, snow tipped firs and exotic wild life have a special appeal all of their own. Especially if it is coupled with other delightful ingredients. Uplifting, funny and warmly moving, Snow Dogs is a doggone splendid adventure for all ages. It’s what we used to think of as good old fashioned entertainment – a film where you can really sit back, relax and go with the flow. An entertaining story embracing family values as the protagonist looks for meaning in his life, of course the real magic comes from the snow dogs, those magnificent huskies with their striking eyes and extraordinary markings. And what amazing creatures they are. Demon, the leader of the pack with alpha male issues, has the most expressive eyes you could imagine: if he is not frowning, he is raising his eyebrows or winking. That’s quite a range for a canine actor. Not only are the huskies gorgeous to look at, but they are beautifully trained and the scenes through the icing-sugar powder snow could well be taken from an idyllic Christmas card scene. On set, the dogs had their own heated ‘condos’, but huskies thrive in sub zero temperatures, and probably had an easier time filming than the human cast and crew. Cinematic and picturesque, the scenery is awesome and we even have an encounter with a big, brown, Kodiak bear. The story is well executed with Cuba Gooding Jnr likeable as Ted, the dentist with the toothpaste grin, James Coburn wonderful as craggy Thunder Jack – so named because he was ‘hit by thunder’ - and delightfully exotic Joanna Bacalso as Barb. Good production values and a big orchestral score add to our enjoyment, and you can expect to be moved – from laughter to tears. I did. Look out for a cute fantasy scene when the huskies (wearing Ray Bans) are reclining in deck chairs. It is a hoot of a scene – especially when they start to talk.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

SNOW DOGS (G)
(US)

CAST: Cuba Gooding jnr, James Coburn, Joanna Bacalso, Nichelle Nichols, Sisqo, M. emmet Walsh, Graham Greene, Brian Doyle-Murray

PRODUCER: Jordan Kerner

DIRECTOR: Brian Levant

SCRIPT: Jim Kouf, Tommy Swerdlow, Michael Goldberg, Mark Gibson, Philip Halprin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Thomas Ackerman ASC

EDITOR: Roger Bondelli

MUSIC: John Debney

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen J. Lineweaver

RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 20, 2002 (Brisbane); June 27, 2002 (other states)

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE

VIDEO RELEASE: December 11, 2002 (Rental); April 2, 2003 (retail)







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