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Snow Dogs

Starring Cuba Gooding Jr; James Coburn, Sisqo, Nichelle Nichols, Joanna Bacalso
Screenplay by Jim Kouf and Tommy Swerdlow & Michael Goldberg and Mark Gibson & Philip Halprin
Directed by Brian Levant

IN SHORT: Literally, a dog. [Rated G. ]

There's a reason we stopped putting dollar sign ratings on films aimed strictly at kidlets a long time ago. It's because little kids will sit through almost anything on the big screen, the experience being so different from watching videos on the small one. When we sit through these films, we watch for two things: 1) can we sit through the film without being utterly bored silly and, more importantly, 2) are the kidlets having a good time?

SNOW DOGS credits five sets of writing hands with the script for what seemed to us to be the most dreadfully written kidflick we've seen in years. Not only is it so bad that there is nothing even remotely close to clever to keep adults interested -- you know the stuff that kidlets won't understand but still delivers the old nudge nudge wink wink factor to us old perverts -- the material specifically meant to keep the single digits cooing in their seats falls so flat that every single one of the kidlets in our sneak sat quietly. Not even the ONE scene with talking puppies dissing Cuba Gooding Jr. (as a transplated Miami dentist who inherits a dog team from a birth mother he never knew about) is a hallucinatory sequence. Everything else feels so much like a too many cooks situation that, we'd predict, if your kidlets are at the reading stage post "See Spot Run," and understand basic story construction, they are too old for this dreadful piece of moviemaking. If they're five or six you can park, but as for attaining parental bliss by watching enraptured faces and hearing the gentle "oo"s and "aa"s as the cutesy pups do their speaking shtick, fuhgeddaboutit.

Gooding Jr. spends the flick yelping and howling and finds the one Alaskan community where there is a sole available eskimo (Joanna Bacalso) to fall in love with - heavy duty verbal dancing about race questions form one of the misbegotten subplots; discovers that the racist white guy who claims to be his dad (James Coburn) may or may not be -- heck, we sat through the damned thing and still aren't sure. The film doesn't know if it wants to be a story of discovery (of a family never known to exist); a rivalry (for control of an apparently fine mush team); a real love story (between Cuba and his local 'mo); a touching family repair story, with Nichelle Nichols as the mom who raised Cuba. Snow Dogs is an utter waste for the big screen which manages one weak joke involving a whitebread pop star and his godhead influence upon our darker skinned star. On paper, it's a good joke, which is why we're not going to spill his identity. You'll find Snow Dogs on video in six weeks tops. If your kids are four, wait, rent and park. Then run for the hills. There's no language or substance stuff to worry about but the movie, overall, is nothing you'll want to even try to sit through as an adults. It's even worse than Ben Stiller in Heavyweights of a couple of years ago.

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