Because I’m a sap, I’ll basically watch any sort of Christmas movie that makes a modicum of sense. I don’t tend to have a lot of standards as long as Christmas is happening, and if you’re the same way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy 12 Dog Days Till Christmas. Though this family film aimed at tweens boasts some fairly terrible acting and an overly simplistic plotline, it’s easy to follow and gets points for employing the fabulous Reginald VelJohnson.
Jack Whitley (Vincent Giovagnoli) is a well-meaning foster kid who, through a life of hard knocks, has learned to fend for himself. He’s a smooth-talking salesman when he needs to be, but his slick ways often land him in trouble. Now nearing the end of his time in the foster system, Jack faces some harsh realities. Where will he go when he reaches age eighteen? His real mom is a fairly awful person, and his current foster family is planning a move that will most likely not include him. In order to repent for his latest antics, Jack’s probation officer (the always loveable and teddy-bearish VelJohnson) assigns him to help out at a local animal shelter. The shelter itself is failing and slated to close after Christmas, quickly evoking Jack’s sympathy. He knows what it’s like to be without a home and running out of time, and the plight of the shelter dogs is not unlike his own.
Despite all of the uncertainty in Jack’s life, he finds solace and friendship at the shelter. Ryan (Grainne McDermott), one of the girls who works at the shelter, convinces Jack to put his persuasive skills to good work and find homes for the twelve remaining dogs. All are variously undesirable, yet perfectly adoptable (as so many shelter animals are), and so, Jack uses his charm to find homes for scrappy dogs, and older dogs, and dogs who are definitely going to shed too much. Through the process Jack builds meaningful friendships that will shape his future, and after finding homes for the twelve dogs, Jack finally finds the perfect home for himself.
Again, the movie doesn’t deliver a great deal of depth or subtlety and the performances by the teen actors will not knock your socks off. However, it’s a benign, heartwarming tale that captures the Christmas spirit. If your family enjoys holidays, dogs, and happy endings, 12 Dogs Till Christmas offers up easy entertainment.