Disney // 2008 // 87 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 5th, 2008
They talk. They mush. They're snow cool.
What happens when five puppies accidentally land in Alaska a become part of a dog sled team? Watch this movie to find out!
Born from the lineage of the legendary Air Bud, the Buddies are a group of five Golden Retriever pups with eclectic personalities. There's Buddha, the Zen wannabe, Mudbud, the filthy animal, Rosebud, the dainty girl stereotype, Budderball, the hulking jock and B-Dawg, the straight-up gangsta.
Usually, the Buddies run around their picturesque neighborhood, irritating the smart-mouthed cat (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), but one day they end up in a container of ice cream bound for Alaska. When they come to, they're in the middle of a winter wonderland, lost, confusing and frickin' cold.
The Buddies eventually meet a Husky named Shasta who then introduces them to his owner, Adam, a wide-eyed little boy with visions of dogsledding glory. Is it possible that these small puppies and this goofy little kid can win a professional dogsled competition? I'm thinking, yes.
Do you have a child that can't get enough of CGI-manipulated animal mouths? If so, Snow Buddies is for you.
What we have here is boilerplate Disney straight-to-DVD live-action cuteness in all its milquetoast glory. Snow Buddies isn't a bad film, but there's nothing to distinguish it from other talking animals screwing around. The life lessons are what you'd find in similar movies (never give up, work together as team, follow your dreams) and the humor is lightweight and whatever word is the polar opposite of edgy.
The Buddies themselves are cute enough, but not entirely un-annoying. Mudbud and Rosebud and Budderball are okay (Budderball sucks ball as a pet's name though) but Buddha and B-Dawg need to be euthanized immediately. Sure that sounds harsh, but how many times can you put up with a puppy dog closing his eyes and saying Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm simply because "Buddha" has the word "Bud" in it or a Golden Retriever that sounds like a white kid from the suburbs trying to sound like a black kid from the city? Oh you think you'd be able to hold out for a while, huh, maybe the entire 87-minute runtime, but trust me, you'll be driving your eyeball into the nearest protruding object soon enough.
Watching these puppies team up and pull a sled is uplifting and all, but the idea of a young boy conning his way into a dangerous, cross-country professional dogsled race and, once his scheme is discovered, allowed to continue in this death-defying act, is a tough one to swallow. Worse, the requisite villain, a "playfully" hapless French guy is apparently so hell-bent on winning the race he's willing to a) let Adam and his puppy dogs dies from exposure and b) abandon his own dogs to perish in frigid ice water. That strikes me as a little too comically hardcore.
There you go: doggies that talk, fart, and tell utter silly one-liners alongside a cute little kid with a dream to tie them up and force them to pull him on a sled. Enjoy.
Video is anamorphic (1.78:1) and the audio is 5.1 and it all looks and sounds fine. The Alaska wilderness looks especially nice and the talking dog effects work well. For extras, you get bloopers, a music video, a making-of documentary, a visual effects featurette and a goofy commentary track with the Buddies (in character).
Disposable, but it is what it is, a low-impact, cutesy Disney live-action movie with talking animals.
I have nothing clever to say about puppies pulling sleds.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Snow Buddies Commentary
* Making-of Documentary
* Music Video
* Visual Effects Feature