Anchor Bay // 2010 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 8th, 2010
Like mouth surgery, except less pleasant.
Apparently this particular dog has saved Christmas before, which I'm sure is a great relief to Jesus.
It's the Yuletide season and the Bannister family, headed by their dumb-ass patriarch (Gary Valentine), land in a Colorado resort for a week of skiing and snowmobiling. Crazy Uncle Randy (Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers) shows up unexpectedly with his slutty, superficial poodle (voiced by Paris Hilton). This immediately detonates the red rocket for the Bannisters's dog Zeus (voiced by Mario Lopez) and he goes out of his way to earn some prime humping time with his new lady friend.
Meanwhile, two idiot thieves plot to steal an expensive necklace, but through a series of hilarious coincidences -- which aren't really hilarious if you must know -- the Bannisters end up with the necklace and canine hijinks ensue.
I know it's low hanging a-hole fruit to pick on a made-for-TV family movie, but there's no getting around it: The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation is every bit as excruciating as you think a kids movie featuring Dean Cain, Casper Van Dien, Paris Hilton, and Mario Lopez would be.
It's not a lasting type of agony that the experience inflicts. You won't carry the wounds long into your life. It's not the kind of insidious suffering that Furry Vengeance and its ilk wreaks; what this Dog does to you is more akin to a cinematic Whiffleball bat to the groin. It hurts like a bastard for a couple of minutes, but then the pain ebbs away and a few days later you're laughing about it with some friends over an appetizer sampler.
So it is a corny, mediocre holiday viewing experience that limps through a terrible script and comedy set-pieces that go nowhere, built entirely upon a pair of dogs reeling off one-liners that deflate immediately upon utterance. But your kids might like the talking dogs and goofy slapstick and funny Van Dien faces, and there's nothing contained within the runtime that could be deemed offensive in the slightest.
Save, perhaps, for Mario Lopez's dog-voice. Oof. For some reason, he felt the correct approach to giving Zeus vocals was to pump up his own pitch several notches. I think he was going for "Zany Cartoon Dog" but the resulting aural abortion is more reminiscent of Bobcat Goldthwait on meth.
The DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital, feature commentary from the cast and filmmakers, bloopers and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation is terrible, but it's a benign terrible.
Here's a Beggin' Strip. Now go away.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG