Jetski with Fur
Snow Dogs
Review by Ross Anthony

Here's a fun family film with a great deal of warmth despite the snow. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a happy go lucky, face on the broadside of a bus, drivin' a convertible sports car in sunny Miami kind of successful dentist. His dancing, punchy, introductory day is interrupted by a triple-whammy: 1) he's adopted, 2) his real mother has passed, and 3) his presence is requested in Alaska for the reading of her will.

You can see where this is going: slick green-bellied city guy slippin' and slidin' in the icy cold higher latitudes amidst leather-faced natives who snicker at his foolishness. Yes, that's exactly the case -- though it would have been easy to hit this note to rote, Disney manages to make the site gags as fresh and invigorating as a snowball in the face. (I mean that in a good way.)

Adding color to the snow (no, not yellow), Cuba's machismo kicks in when he uncovers a father who's more of a parent to dogs than his own blood. Cuba's frustration fuels his folly.

With a tendency toward overacting, Cuba is perfect for the role, James Coburn also nails his part as dogsledding legend "Thunder Jack" who was "hit by thunder - twice!" (I love that line.)

Briskly-edited, fun and endearing, "Snow Dogs" shows off some very nice transitions early on.

Behind the snow games and lovable Siberian huskies (plus one sheep dog), the picture hosts a parka-wrapped dose of heart. In one of the film's well-placed hard-hitting lines, Cuba defends his decision to sell off his birth-mother's belongings and head back to Miami, "Why not pawn off her stuff ... she pawned off her kid?"

Of note, only a few days prior to this screening, I'd finished reading a book by Gary Paulsen in which he mentions running the Itidarod, hauling a team of dogs up from the lower 48. During the film, I was reminded of that book, then I was surprised to learn that the picture was actually inspired/based on another Paulsen piece, "Winterdance"

Tidbits: Director Levant, who has six dogs of his own at home, said there were as many as 80 dogs on the set at one time. The production notes say all of the dogs were mushers though they were also people's pets and may have never teamed together. Additionally, a few "puppet" dogs were thrown in the mix to display some tricky expressions.

  • Snow Dogs. Copyright © 2002. Rated PG.
  • Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., James Coburn, Joanna Bacalso, Sisqo, Nichelle Nichols, M. Emmet Walsh, Graham Greene, Brian Doyle-Murray, Jean-Michel Pare.
  • Directed by Brian Levant.
  • Screenplay by Jim Kouf and Tommy Swerdlow & Michael Goldberg and Mark Gibson & Philip Halprin.
  • Produced by Jordan Kerner at Buena Vista/Winterdance(c).


Copyright © 2002. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:54:02 PDT