Sony // 1993 // 95 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // June 11th, 2002
The world's favorite family is back!
It's been six years, and a great deal has changed in the Ubriacco home when last we paid $7.50 to see them. Babies Mickey and Julie have matured to the point where they no longer need Bruce Willis or Roseanne Barr Arnold Hutz Terwilliger McClure to dub their voices for them. John "Now where did I put that Pulp Fiction 2 script" Travolta and Kirstie "Veronica's Closet sounds like a good idea" Alley have their hands full, what with bedtime, bath time, and daily sessions with the E-meter. When Mickey discovers that Santa may indeed be a drunken, gambling lout, the mercy gift of a dog (voiced by Danny DeVito) is thrust upon him. At the same time, Travolta's new boss slogs her poodle (voiced by Annie Hall, AKA Diane Keaton) off on the family, hoping this will endear her to John and compel him into a high powered, interpersonal merger. Just when it looks like everything is sunshine, lollipops, and poop jokes, we take a strange swerve off into weird plot world. It's Christmas Eve, Travolta's being seduced, and the rest of the clan is battling a pack of wolves from a snow-bound taxi. It's up to the mighty mutts to save the day before a woodland Noel celebration turns into the Donner party.
If there is one major flaw in this film that damages it almost irreparably, it's the animals. Travolta and Alley are fine together with wonderfully "clear" screen chemistry. The children have been written as intelligent without being smarmy, and there are some very cute scenes of the family interacting together. But unlike the first two films, when the celebrity voiced mongrels speak/think aloud to the audience, every joke is covered in mange and the whole concept needs a tick bath. The dogs are just not funny, and if it were not for the final act, they would be superfluous to the story. Sure, Mickey wanted a dog from Santa, but to then devote scene after pointless scene to their internal monologues on bones, butts, and bitches just doesn't seem important. The daughter's obsession with basketball is more fun, and a good story could have been fashioned out a child's tainted image of Santa. But since this is a franchise built on a gimmick, not characters or story, something's gotta talk. And since articulate infants are now as common as failed dot-coms, it might as well be something that licks its own crotch.
Columbia TriStar must be hitting hard times. All we get here is a full screen, two-channel Dolby Surround Sound presentation. Both are very good, but if not for the inclusion of a couple of trailers, this would be a glorified digital videotape. It really is too bad that this is part of the Look Who's Talking franchise, since it really is sweet and endearing at times. Travolta, Alley, and the kids make a nice family and those scenes of everyday challenges work well. But whenever the dogs appear, or Travolta turns on the dancing bear act (seems like every other chapter he is hoofing it up for some manufactured reason), the movie just sits there, inert. Children will probably fancy this film, and some adults may enjoy the message about love and trust. But anyone looking for true talking animal hilarity would be better suited watching old reruns of Mr. Ed. Or Coyote Ugly.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailers