PG for mild crude humor
January 18, 2002
Cuba Gooding, Jr., James Coburn,
Joanna Bacalso, Nichelle Nichols, M. Emmet Walsh, Brian Doyle
Murphy, & Graham Greene
Walt Disney/Buena Vista Pictures
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By Lisa and Brandon Rice,
- Ted Brooks (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is a likeable, popular Miami dentist
who took over his deceased fathers thriving practice and is now enjoying
his life as a successful single professional in one of the warmest cities
in America. The only aspects of his life that mystify him are his propensity
to get sick at the slightest provocation and the tendency to have a few other
unusual ticks and tastes that dont seem to run in his family. He especially
does not like dogs.
One day Brooks gets a letter informing him that he has inherited something
from a lady named Lucy, a deceased woman in Alaska. Appalled, Teds mom apologetically
informs him that he was adopted and that Lucy is his real mother. Surprised
and intrigued, Ted takes off for Alaska and heads to the tavern where his
mother worked for the reading of her will. His mother has left her coat to
a young gal named Barb (Joanna Bacalso), the gorgeous but gruff-and-gutsy
bartender/owner, and her outhouse to a crusty, intimidating old man whom the
town calls "Thunder Jack," (James Coburn) because he was once struck
by thunder. All the rest of Lucys possessions are left to Ted, including
a beautiful, but rambunctious dogsled team.
Ted scouts out his mothers cabin and is sad and a little angry that he never
knew her. He is amazed that she has almost no worldly possessions, and he
is about to leave when he is playfully assaulted by eight "snow dogs"
Ted makes several hilarious attempts to control the unwieldy canines but becomes
increasingly frustrated. Seeing the discomfort of the appalled city slicker,
Thunder Jack offers to purchase the entire team for $200. Though the team
is worth thousands, Ted is ready to agree and is heading out of town when
Barb tells him that Thunder Jack is his father!
Being a black man, Ted doesnt believe that a crusty white guy could really
be his dad, but he decides to stay and find out the truth. When he confronts
"Thunder," really named James Johnson, he is told, "Thats
ancient history. You dont belong here." (Just what every son wants to
hear from a father.) Thunder tells Ted that there was a one-night-stand in
a cave and that was it, no parental involvement at all, just a smart decision
to give him a better home.
Ted continues to push the matter, and shouting soon ensues. They try to out-scream
each other with, "Youve got something wrong in your head!" Hurt
and angry, Ted is now even more resolved to stay and master dog sledding,
just to prove himself to this estranged father and prevent him from getting
Again, Teds attempts are hilarious. He falls through the ice, crying, "Help
me, Lord!", he tangles with a skunk, he loses battles of the wit with
one of the dogs named Demon (voiced by Jim Belushi), and he generally makes
a fool of himself to the amusement of the whole town. He has a dream one night
that he is back in warm Miami and the whole dogsled team is sunning in lounge
chairs, talking to him and making fun of him (compliments of Jim Hensons
Giving up again, he heads back to Miami and his dental practice. His adoptive
mother comes over one night as Ted is dressed in fur with the air conditioning
on full blast, watching the Alaskan sledding races begin. The mom accidentally
drops a framed photo of Lucy, only to find another photo underneath. This
one reveals the truth.
Ted high-tails it back to Alaska, determined to confront his father again
and find the rest of the REAL story. To complicate matters, the great "Arctic
Challenge" has begun, and Thunder is missing. Ted must decide if his
city-boy background and determination, along with the help of a wild, but
loyal dog team, will be enough to navigate the stormy race and find and rescue
his father. Can he muster the strength to return good for evil, despite the
fact that there may be no emotional payoff? Furthermore, will he land a real
relationship with the pretty bartender, whose crush might be turned to commitment?
Snow Dogs is cute, funny and acceptable for all except very young
children, who may be frightened by the dangers of the adventure or lost in
the more adult themes. My first-grade son, however, laughed out loud during
much of the movie and was never bored. His only regret was that the "talking
animals" part was very short just a brief dream sequence. (His other
regret was that his mom doesnt take him away from Math every week to review
The acting and production values, including Hensons animatronics team, are
top-notch, and the mix of humor and drama is just right.
Snow Dogs was a good, moral, even biblical, movie. Ted cries out to
God for rescue, and his adoptive mother tells him that she survived a plane
ride only through 14 hours of prayer. His mother confesses her fear of telling
the truth and her regret that she hadnt been more truthful, and Thunder says
at one point, "A man who doesnt tell it like it is, is a liar, and I
hate liars." Cool. So does God. Genuine heart issues are revealed, and
the movie beautifully portrays the redemption that comes to those who fight
for their freedom through truth.
The thematic elements of Snow Dog were incredible all around. Just
as in Hearts in Atlantis, Life as a House, My First Mister, and even
comedies like Corky Romano, this movie shouts: Children need good fathers!
This whole movie was the quest of a grown-up child to get the love and affirmation
of a distant father.
Though Hollywood has just discovered this issue, the Bible has been talking
about it all along. Scripture tells us that "In the last days, I will
turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children." Oh, Lord, may it
be so! There is no element more crucial to a childs understanding of God
than a loving relationship with an involved father. Fathers draw their sons
and daughters into life, and when the father is absent, physically or emotionally,
even adult children continue to suffer greatly.
For great reading on the all-important father issue, we recommend Jack Frosts
ministry tapes and books, as well as the book Transformation of the Inner
Man by John and Paula Sandford. (It is important to note that the adoptive
father in Snow Dogs was portrayed as a wonderful, smart, involved dad
who continually spoke life and a future to his son. Way to go!)
In short, do enjoy a great family outing to Snow Dogs, but be sure
to remind your children that you cant get struck by thunder!
Please address your comments to:
Michael Eisner, Chairman/CEO
The Walt Disney Company
(Buena Vista, Caravan, Hollywood, Miramax, & Touchstone Pictures)
Walt Disney Studios
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
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