Posted in: Disc Reviews by Athena on February 8th, 2008
OK. Listen up. My name’s Athena and I’m a 12 year old Siberian Husky living in Florida. When I heard Gino say he needed a break and some down time, I decided to pitch in. It turns out that pulling a speaker from the shelf was not the kind of “break” he was talking about, and maybe not what he meant by “down” time either, now that I think about it. So, in between the “bad dogs” and those funny little words that come out whenever I get creative, I was able to figure out what he was really talking about. He was tired from watching all these DVD’s for you guys and then telling you all about them. It seems he wanted to take a day off is all.You humans aren’t very good at saying what you really mean sometimes. So, with no selfish desire for a treat or belly rub, and partly to make up for the messed up speaker (guess I’m the only big woofer right now ) I agreed to watch Snow Buddies and write a review of this doggie film from a dog’s point of view.
I didn’t get to see any of the Air Bud films. You see, Gino doesn’t often let me in the theatre, something about dog hair not being good for the equipment. I just get to clean up occasionally when guests are eating popcorn. Gino tells me that Air Bud is where this whole film franchise started. There were several Air Bud films followed by Air Buddies, the first of the “Buddies” films. But even though I never saw those movies, it didn’t matter. You’ll be able to follow this one pretty easy on its own. You are introduced to the “Buddies” right at the start. There’s Bud-Ha (Bennett), a wise meditational pup. Next up is Mud-Bud (Hodges), an always dirty pup with a fondness for rolling in the dirt. The female Buddy is Rose-Bud, who is the girly part of the team all decked out in a bow. Bud-Derball is the normal one of the bunch, followed by the rappin’ pup, B-Dawg. The “Buddies” each have their own particular ball toy, and even though owned by different families, play and get into trouble together. In this movie they break into an ice cream truck and get trapped and accidentally shipped to Alaska. Maybe that’s why I’m not supposed to eat ice cream. Now, in Alaska we meet Adam (Kay) who actually was the voice of Bud-Ha in the previous and next Buddy film. Adam has a real dog, that’s a husky, in case you were wondering. The “Buddies” are all golden retrievers. The husky’s name is Shasta, and he’s the star of the movie. It seems that Adam and Shasta wish they could enter the local dog sled race, but they are 5 dogs short of a team. They pray for God to give them 5 more dogs, and guess what literally falls out of the sky? You guessed it, the “Buddies”. Now, I know what you’re thinking. They weren’t looking for golden retriever puppies, but this is a Disney film, after all. It’s the typical you can do/be anything if you put your heart into it. The rest of the movie is pretty predictable. Shasta leads them all in the big race against the bad guy played by our very own Schanke, John Kapelos, from that vampire show Forever Knight. Here Schanke plays a bad man who doesn’t treat his dogs very well. He calls them bad names and whips them and never gives any belly rubs. With Shasta leading the way, he’s going down. I was a little surprised that Disney showed 10 year old Adam doing things like using a welder’s torch and entering a dangerous race without his parents’ permission. You humans aren’t usually down with letting your pups do that kind of thing, so I hope no one gets the idea that doing that will help you do great things. Anyway… everything works out fine. Sure, it gets a little hairy at times, but what do you expect in a movie with a lot of dogs. And like all Disney films, it ends with a strong moral lesson. In this one I think the message is if you want a really cool dog, get a husky.
I think your pups will love the movie. It’s sure to keep them entertained, and they’ll want to watch it over and over again. Kids sure know how cute huskies are. I think you grownups might get a little bored. The pace is sometimes a little slow, but this from a dog that thinks everybody goes too slow. The dog voices sound really great, but the lip movements are pretty lame, and there are no expressions at all. I used to think watching dogs talk would just creep me out, but Gino let me watch Underdog, and they did it very well. I almost believed those humans were actually talking. Gino tells me it’s because that was a big budget movie and Snow Buddies is a direct to DVD film having a much smaller budget. That means less treats so not as good dog actors, I guess. So, you should judge Snow Buddies for what it is and not for what it isn’t.
Bud-Ha would say there’s no truth in beauty, and that spells H U S K Y. This movie really is a pretty one to watch. It is presented in something called a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I think it has something to do with how many treats per dog there are. The colors looked very real, and I even tried to run into the snow, it looked so real. Oh. Gino says to tell you the black levels were pretty solid as was the detail. He said the CG snow elements were very nicely rendered, whatever the heck all of that means. There aren’t any scratches or any defects to spoil a nice image.
Did you know that a dog can hear better than a human? I liked what I heard in this Dolby Digital 5.1 track. There was a bunch of stuff that sounded like it was happening right behind me. I could hear snow, wind, music, and even spooky footsteps that sounded like they were creeping up behind me. There isn’t much coming out of the woofer. (Gino told me I had to be quiet). The dialog is always clear, and I heard every word just fine.
There is also a commentary track with the 5 Buddies. I don’t know why Shasta wasn’t there. It was a lot of fun as the actors stayed in character the entire run. If this wasn’t scripted, a lot of credit needs to go to these pups for their clever banter.
Bloopers: A little over 3 minutes of manufactured mistakes and pups eating yellow snow. Not enough husky action.
Music Video: Mitchell Musso sings the classic Lean On Me in a horribly lip synced urban hip hop piece of doo doo.
The other extras can be found in a sub menu entitled Disney Backstage Pass:
The 411 On Snow Buddies: This mockumentary runs about 7 minutes. The Buddies reveal some backstage secrets. It wasn’t a surprise to learn that Shasta pretty much ran the puppies.
The Magic Of Special Effects: The biggest effect on Snow Buddies was the actual snow. Most of the blizzard stuff is fake, and the “Buddies” worked mostly inside studios with a lot of f/x. Shasta looks pretty good when they did let him run around the real stuff. And that wasn’t really Bud-Ha’s tongue stuck to the ice.
Face it, Dawg. I know dogs. I haven’t been chillin’ in this fur for 12 years and not know a thing or two about dogs. My recommendation would be to get yourself a real dog to watch this film with. I betcha know what kind to get, right? That Shasta dog is going places, I can tell you that. (hopefully he’s “going” outside, but let’s not talk about that right now, okay?) I give this movie 3 belly rubs out of 5 and that spells T R E A T. You should be careful. The DVD case isn’t very strong, so you can’t really chew on it. Except for that it’s a fun movie for your whole family, ‘cept maybe the cat. I’m Athena and that’s my rulin’. “Woof.”