Snow Dogs (2002)

Genres - Adventure, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Animal Picture, Family-Oriented Adventure, Family-Oriented Comedy  |   Release Date - Jan 18, 2002 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Canada, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

No review of Snow Dogs would be complete without a couple obligatory words bemoaning how far Cuba Gooding Jr. has fallen since Jerry Maguire. It's possible Gooding never wanted to uphold the reputation of Oscar winner, and accepted being on a downward slide since that career pinnacle. But it's doubtful he imagined himself scrambling through the Alaskan wilderness, over-emoting like a buffoon, eyes and mouth fighting to see which could open the widest. Such slouching toward stereotypes is a disturbing trend in Disney movies, though the premise itself might be more directly responsible for turning the film into a walking punch line. To be sure, Gooding gives it his all, but Snow Dogs may have needed less than that to work. For the youngest children, just giving the dogs facial expressions might be enough. But older ones will probably find it square at best. Since this is Disney, the movie is assembled with a certain tidy competence and at least a minimum of good cheer; another Disney byproduct is that it deals with an orphan type seeking out his long-lost parentage, part of an ongoing thematic preoccupation. And sure, it's nice to empower Alaska as a demographic, as well as the tragically ignored sport of dog sledding. But unless you're a Star Trek fan peeking in to see Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) as Gooding's mother, mush onward.