It’s hard to be a Scrooge about a film called The Search for Santa Paws, especially when there is an adorable dog on the cover. But I’m sorry to say that this straight-to-DVD/BD spin-off from the Disney Buddies series is cheap rubbish. But what else were you expecting?
For those who don’t know, the Disney Buddies series is a collection of films that feature dogs talking and children displaying little or no acting talent. The adult performers are hired to degrade themselves by acting in a very obvious ans unconvincing way, so very small children are not confused by any plot intricacies (and believe me, they are few and far between). This is a film for those who thought Elf was a little too cerebral for their little ones.
Santa loses his favourite dog. The dog is lost wandering around Manhattan, and because Santa has been hit by a car he mistakenly thinks he works in a toy shop. The dog befriends some helium-voiced orphans who sing at him in ways that would offend even the gutter-level expectations of this year’s X Factor judges. God knows what smug response Gary Barlow would hurl at them. To introduce a ‘race against time’ scenario, the dogs and orphans need to find a piece of ice/crystal that contains the spirit of Christmas (or something equally twee) in order to keep Santa from dying.
Because Disney clearly always intended this as a movie for mothers to stuff into their trolleys whilst doing a trip around Asda, the whole thing is filmed with poor production values and uninspired lighting. It all looks very televisual and low-budget. The CGI is also – surprise surprise – embarrassingly bad.
You could call this harmless Christmassy nonsense, and to some extent it is – I’m sure hundreds of young people across the globe have found delight in watching talking dogs dressed in festive clothing. But, when you think about it, there is something sad about the way highly paid Disney executives are so ready to produce such badly-made nonsense in an attempt to cash in on naive kids and parents. But that’s Hollywood for you.
Nobody is going to watch this expecting The Godfather. It’s just another piece of cynical commercialism Christmassy fun to go with the other thousand or so similar titles that line the shelves of HMV’s family movie section.
The Search for Santa Paws (2010), directed by Robert Vince, is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Walt Disney Pictures Home Entertainment, certificate U.