Snow Dogs - PG
Best for: Kids age 6 to adult.
What it's about: Ted Brooks (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is a Miami dentist who gets word that he's been named in his birth mother's will and has to go to Alaska to get his inheritance. His mother's most prized possession is a team of sled dogs with a ferocious leader named Demon. Barb (Joanna Bacalso) teaches Ted a few tips about learning to mush his team of dogs. Ted also battles an ornery mountain man, Thunder Jack (James Coburn), who wants to buy his dogs and send him home. Michelle Nichols, Sisqo, Graham Greene and M. Emmet Walsh also star.
The good: This is a fun, feel-good comedy for anyone who's a sucker for a cute dog story. The scenery is gorgeous (it's worth watching the movie for that alone), and the dogs are beautiful, mischievous and funny (there's a hilarious scene with the dogs lined up in beach chairs, talking about Ted). There's a scary bear scene, sensitive moments when Ted learns about his parents and a few romantic moments as well. There's even a thrilling race with a few unexpected turns and a happy ending that will leave your child wanting a Husky dog. This family comedy also deals with the sensitive subject of birth parents giving up their child and adoptive parents loving that child as their own.
The not-so-good: The only issue I have with this movie is the glossed-over approach that Ted's father takes in telling him how he was conceived (a one night stand in a cave during a race) and why he and his mother decided not to keep Ted (they were both "independent spirits" that needed to race dogs). I realize this is a family comedy, but the overall impression left on any child old enough to pay attention to the dialogue and figure it out may be that sometimes children are an "inconvenience" and it's better for them to be given away if the parents don't love each other.
The irresponsibility of that message is thankfully mixed in with a few hugs and some sweet music that make it "feel good," but parents may need to have a balanced discussion about adoption with impressionable children who are intelligent enough to process that shallow message. Added to the adoption issue is a racial one: Ted's father is white. Some parents may find that worth a discussion as well.
Offensive language: None
Sexual situation: None. The most we see is a kiss between Ted and Barb.
Violence: No violence, but a few exciting moments when Ted almost falls off of a cliff (twice) and when he's chased by a bear.
Parental advisory: This is a cute and entertaining story that's best for kids old enough to understand the plot (toddlers were squirming in seats around me), but one that might require a discussion afterward about the issue of adoption.