Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws (Blu-ray)

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Rating: G

Starring:
George Wendt as Santa Claus
Christopher Lloyd as Stan Cruge
Danny Woodburn as Eli
Paul Rae as Fake Santa
Michael Teigen as Deputy Dan
Craig Anton as Bob
Andrew Astor as Mickey
Field Cate as Buddha (voice)
Chris Coppola as Cupid
Patricia Cullen as Martha
Josh Flitter as Budderball (voice)
Ben Giroux as Clark
Zachary Gordon as Puppy Paws (voice)
Ryan Grantham as Sam
Aramis Knight as Budha
Quinn Lord as Pete
Kaitlyn Maher as Tiny
Gig Morton as Billy
Brandon Nomura as Japanese Boy
Nic Novicki as Ellis
Ty Panitz as Mud Bud (voice)
Mikey Post as Elpert

Special Features:
Disc 1: Blu-ray
Sing Along To Christmas Carols With The Buddies
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” Music Video

Disc 2: Standard DVD
Sing Along To Christmas Carols With The Buddies
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” Music Video

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1)
DTS-HD 5.1
Spanish and French Languages
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 88 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“Disney’s irresistible talking puppies return in a heartwarming holiday adventure! Take a fantastic journey with your beloved Buddies to the magical world of the North Pole! Join Budderball, B-Dawg, Rosebud, Buddha and Mudbud in this classic Christmas tale that will have you believing in miracles. When Puppy Paws, the feisty son of Santa Paws, forgets the true meaning of the season, it’s up to the Buddies to remind him that the true meaning of Christmas spirit is about things you can’t wrap in a box or tie with a bow. Unleash a stockingful of Christmas cheer for you and your family with this fun-filled film, featuring never-before-seen bonus materials. It’s sure to become a holiday classic – especially in Blu-ray High Definition.”

“Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws” is rated G.

Mini-Review:
By my count, this is the ninth “Air Bud” movie. At this rate they’ll be neck in neck with James Bond for the number of sequels they’ve generated. Good family films will actually appeal to the entire family – both children and adults. Unfortunately, “Santa Buddies” does not fall in that category. Well, I take that back. It’s actually so bad it’s worth snickering at, so it’s good for a few laughs.

First of all, the North Pole is facing two crises. It’s facing global warming and the swine flu. I kid you not. A magical icicle that gives Santa his powers is melting. If they can’t stop it, Christmas is dead. To make matters worse, the reindeer have a contagious flu that everyone else is trying to avoid. As if kids weren’t bombarded with this stuff enough in the news, now it’s in their movies and threatens Christmas.

Second, the talking dog animation looks a bit silly. These dogs are practically stationary in most scenes and it looks like they’re looking off screen saying, “All I want is that treat you’re holding” as computer animated lips move over their face. It’s obviously easier to animate talking mouths over a dog standing still, but it doesn’t quite work if they’re talking excitedly about something while standing utterly still. It’s not very puppy-like.

Then there’s the dogs. They’re incredibly annoying. One is a jock. One is a wise Eastern philosopher / hippie. Then another is a horrible, hip dog named “B-Dawg.” It talks in street lingo and says, “Fo shizzle” a lot. It is, essentially, the new African American stereotype. I think if I was black I’d be slightly offended.

That leaves the acting. You start feeling really, really sorry for Christopher Lloyd and George Wendt. Wendt just looks lifeless as Santa while seeing Lloyd just made me want to pop in the DVD for “Back to the Future.” Tom Bosley and Tim Conway emerge relatively unscathed since they only lend their voices. As for the rest of the cast, it’s what you’d expect from a straight-to-DVD film.

All complaints aside, my kids loved this movie. They’ve watched it multiple times since we got in the mail. They quote it, know every scene by heart, and generally love any of the “Air Bud” DVDs. So while I could barely stand watching it, it’s great entertainment for kids.

The bonus features are almost nonexistent. There are some sing-alongs with the puppies (unfortunately no “Jingle Bells” with barking dogs, though). There’s also a music video.

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