Snow Dogs is Northern Exposure, with the fish-out-of-water being a black man instead of a New York Jew. Ted (Cuba), a cornball Miami dentist with a sparkling toothsome grin, inherits a team of sled dogs from a dead woman in Alaska… whom he finds out was his biological mother (*gasp!*)! But so the kids in the audience don’t get traumatized about finding out what their siblings told them is true, that they are adopted, it is emphasized that Cuba was raised by some swell adoptive parents. Fer cryin’ out loud, his Miami mom is Nichelle Nichols, aka Lt. Uhura from Star Trek (I don’t know anyone that would complain about that!).
Ted flies to small town Alaska, gets attacked his newly inherited sled dogs, falls down mountains, gets dragged behind sleds, butts heads with the town’s cranky old mountain main Thunder Jack (James Coburn), runs from a bear (umm… don’t they hibernate in winter?), falls into an icy lake, stumbles through through snow storms, models an impressive array of name-brand winter parkas, and falls in love with the only non-white woman in town, who is of course a hottie, and has apparently been waiting all her life for Ted to show up. Oh, and did I mention that at the end Ted saves the day by expertly taking his team into a blizzard to rescue a lost musher competing in an Iditarod-esque sled dog race? That’s right, and I bet you can’t guess how it ends.
Snow Dogs had my friend and I groaning from the start… but the more Cuba screamed (and he screamed, I’d say, in every damn scene of the movie) the more the kids in the audience laughed. Is this what children’s entertainment has come to? After feeding the youth of America great films like Spy Kids, Harry Potter, and Monsters, Inc. in the past year, don’t you think the youth of today would demand quality? I guess not. The little kids, alas, don’t seem to know any better. But the filmmakers at Disney should be lined up against a wall, slapped, and sent to their rooms.
* Public Service Message: The film’s end-credits say that Snow Dogs was “suggested by” Gary Paulsen’s non-fiction book Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod. For god’s sakes, don’t be fooled! Winterdance is a gorgeously-written book about one man finding his way when he takes up sled-dog racing in Alaska. It has absolutely nothing to do with the dreck you see on film. Go to your local library and check it out!