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Santa Buddies (2009)

Kids & Family movie directed by Robert Vince

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Cute, But Tepid

  • Jan 30, 2010
SANTA BUDDIES is the latest installment in Disney's series of films about the "Buddies" clan of puppy Golden Retrievers. The dogs are cute and not only that, but they talk. In this story, Santa Claus (George Wendt) and his dog companion, Santa Paws (Tom Bosley) are worried that Christmas will soon disappear because the North Pole icicle which contains the magical spirit of Christmas is melting at a rapid pace. People just don't believe in Christmas and if Santa Paws son, Puppy Paws, doesn't start thinking of others instead of himself, there will be no hope because he has to pass on the spirit of Christmas to future generations of puppies. Puppy Paws, though, is tired of his life and wants to be an average dog. So, he hitches a ride to a small town in Washington to visit the Buddies: Budderball, B-Dawg, Buddha, Mudbud, and their sister Rosebud. But Puppy Paws still seems selfish as ever until he is caught by the local dog catcher, Stan Crudge (Christopher Lloyd) and taken to his shelter. Santa Paws and Santa Claus discover what's happened and with some help from their elves and the Buddies, the set out to rescue Puppy Paws and save Christmas.

SANTA BUDDIES is the first of the "Air Buddies" movies I have seen. As an adult who has worked with children, I realize that the movie was not for me. Most of the dialog is atrocious, the plot is filled with all kinds of giant holes, the computer effects are laughable, and there is very little emotional depth to the story (a subplot with the dogcatcher is the most moving part of the whole piece). It is a movie clearly marketed toward a very young audience. With that said, I really can't even recommend this movie for that audience either. The movie promotes a very secularized version of Christmas (with famous Christmas carols rewritten and erasing any Christian connotations whatsoever). I also found it a bit weird that the Buddha puppy celebrated Christmas; how is it that all Christian references are erased but Buddhism remains as the only religion in the movie? I did like how the movie illustrated that the department store Santas and elves are ambassadors for Santa, but for very young children this is a concept that might not grasp. Even though it's cute, it's also a bit disturbing to see a bunch of dogs delivering presents to all the "nice" children and puppies of the world.

On a more positive note, the subplot with Mr. Crudge is perhaps the best part of the film. Christopher Lloyd is almost always a joy to watch. It was nice to see George Wendt again, too, though his Santa didn't seem very jolly (perhaps emoting what Wendt actually felt about the project). I also enjoyed listening to the voices of Tom Bosley and Tim Conway, people that only adults will recognize.

The special features on the DVD include a "Sing Along to Christmas Carols With the Buddies" that offers three songs that viewers can sing with the Buddies; a music video of "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" featuring a newer Disney singer, Steve Rushton; a promo for Blu-Ray featuring Cole and Dlyan Sprouse from Disney's "Suite Life" series, and a bunch of trailers for upcoming Disney features and products.

Overall, SANTA BUDDIES isn't a great piece of entertainment. It's about what you would expect. It's definitely a feature that uses Christmas as a marketing ploy, which is ironic because part of the "message" of the movie is about how we shouldn't be so self-centered. Young children might enjoy the movie, but parents and caretakers should just be aware of what they are watching.

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About this movie


Christmas spirit is waning around the globe, and people are losing sight of the real meaning of Christmas. Up at the North Pole, Santa and his trusty dog Santa Paws are alarmed because the Christmas icicle, which is the source of Christmas magic, is melting. Even scarier is the fact that only Santa Paws's young pup Puppy Paws can spread the word about the importance of Christmas spirit to the new generation, but all he wants to do is be a normal dog. After looking at the naughty list, Puppy Paws hitches a ride to Fernfield, Washington, to catch up with Budderball and participate in what he perceives to be a more normal life. Budderball, B-Dawg, Rosebud, Mudbud, and Buddha all take a turn hosting Puppy Paws, but he doesn't seem to quite fit in with any one of them. While in Fernfield, Puppy Paws is shocked by the widespread disbelief in Santa Claus and Santa Paws as well as by the general lack of holiday spirit. He also gets a rude surprise when dogcatcher Stan Cruge grabs him and locks him behind bars in the local pound. It takes all of the Buddies working together with a special dog named Tiny and an elf-dog from the North Pole to save Puppy Paws and reignite the town's Christmas spirit, but will it be enough to save Christmas around the world?

Santa Buddies features some nice songs and a good message, but the fully animated segments (especially those with the reindeer) are poorly rendered and give the production a low-budget, even amateurish feel. The film focuses more on ...

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Director: Robert Vince
Genre: Family
DVD Release Date: November 24, 2009
Runtime: 88 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
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"Cute, But Tepid"
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