out of five
: 99 mins
Average Disney comedy that’s well made and well acted, but unfortunately low on laughs.
If you’ve seen the poster campaign for Snow Dogs, you could be forgiven for thinking it was about a bunch of talking huskies vacationing in the sun. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your talking-dog tolerance), the posters are misleading, because this scene only appears as a fantasy sequence and the rest of the film is unremarkable and lacking in laughs, despite decent performances from the cast.
Cuba ‘Show me the money’ Gooding Jnr plays Ted, an unfulfilled Miami dentist who discovers he’s adopted when he inherits a pack of racing dogs in Alaska, courtesy of the birth mother he never knew he had. That’s about as funny as the film gets, really - Gooding exclaiming, “I’m an ESKIMO?” and pulling a funny face.
To be fair, it isn’t really Gooding’s fault – he’s an engaging enough lead and the film is competently made, particularly in the seamless blending of real dogs and CGI dogs (apart from one misjudged scene in which they wink at each other). It’s only in the script department that the film falls down – this is the sort of film that has five credited scriptwriters and barely a chuckle between them.
On the plus side, there’s good support from the always-watchable James
Coburn (presumably a bit strapped for cash) as “Thunder Jack”, who turns out to be –yes! - Cuba’s long-lost father, who shares his passion for Really Stinky Cheese. (Yes, these ARE the jokes).
There’s also a welcome comic turn from Star Trek’s Nichelle ‘Uhura’ Nichols as Cuba’s adoptive mother. On top of this, Joanna Bacalso makes an attractive love interest, though she somehow gets saddled with what is surely The World’s Most Gratuitous Bikini Scene, given the film’s sub-zero setting. Oh yes, and there’s a ‘cameo’ from Michael Bolton, if you like that sort of thing.
In short, then, Snow Dogs isn’t exactly unwatchable, but it’s nothing special and will have its work cut out for it if it’s up against the likes of Star Wars Episode II…