Snow Dogs

Director: Brian Levant

Lead Actors: Cuba Gooding Jr., James Coburn and Sisqó

I should state at the beginning of this review that I’m not sure how some people fall off the A-list. Some creep down. Some dive off. Some careen off. But I can say with certainty that Cuban Gooding Jr., not so long ago, was fresh off winning ano Oscar for his energetic performance in Jerry Maguire - and in this movie, released in 2002, he is in a Disney movie sharing the screen with dogs. Maybe it's time to go into politics?  

That being said, maybe it doesn’t matter. For the purposes of this movie, Cuba Gooding Jr. worked.
Snow Dogs is about a successful Miama dentist, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., who seemingly has it all: a successful practice (cutely coined "Hot Smilt"), money, a nice car and a great reputation.

Well, his world is put into a tale spin when he receives notice via a summons that he is adopted! This puts him into a tail spin and he decides he has to find himself in the wilds of Alaska, where the will is being read over and his late real mom's inheritance is being sorted over.

Most of what his mom leaves behind is forgettable, dusty items and a broken down cabin.  But then, almost out of thin air, eight racing dogs, who used to belong to Ted (the main character)'s mother, appear.  

There he also meet Jack, the man who wants to buy the dogs off him cheap and a love interest who owns a  bar.
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Cuba is in full “show me the money” mode in this one, and is one moment away from doing a celebratory break dance move across a frozen pond during the whole movie. He rarely comes down from his super-hyped pitch long enough to deliver a normal line.

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Buuut. .. in a weird way, it works. The dogs, aided by some special effects, are brimming with personality and fight. They are led by Demon, the main sled dog, who has convinced all the other dogs to give their new master a run for his money before they’ll let him lead them.

The rest of the supporting cast is phenomenal.

Gooding Jr. is not the only award winning actor in the group. Coburn, who won an Oscar for “Affliction”, is convincing as Thunder Jack, champion dog sled racer. I felt that Michelle Nichols carried the movie as Ted’s adopted mother who didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth at a young age and who truly cares about her son. 
Former rapper and pop music star Cisqo is somewhat interesting as Ted’s nephew and heir apparent to the dentistry business. But that’s not where the great and funny performances end.
There was the indelible M. Emmet Walsh as Ted’s guide and pilot. Graham Greene as a snow golfing local. Joanna Bacalso works as Barb, the mixed race, possibly eskimo love interest.

Brian Doyle Murray, who I know as the boss in Griswold Family Vacation, but who also, according to his IMDB, was a member of Saturday Night Live at one point, was also great as a local with a lot of cavities and other dental problems. His character is excited to have a real dentist around! No one could stop talking about the stench of their rotting teeth in this norhtern Alaska town. Foreshadowing, possibly, to where Ted is truly needed.
Let’s face it, my dad walked out on this movie and I can see how it is not meant for the linear thinker. But, if you are the type who spots great comedic performances, stick around! The adventures are impossible and far fetched and the premise itself silly, but if you grab on to this dog sled, it will take you on a great ride.
Also, it is a great advertisement for the sport of dog sledding, which for obvious reasons doesn’t get much mainstream press in the mainland sports world.

From where I sit, recently we’ve seen an African American president, champion golfer, Secretary of State and now why not a champion African American dog sledding champion to mush past more race barriers.

Anything having to do with the racing dogs. Coburn shushing and intimidating an entire Alaskan bar in the beginning. A scene where Gooding Jr. falls unconscious in the freezing cold and has a hallucinogenic dream where the dogs talk to and mock him and Joanna Bacalso, who must have been a Laker Girl before this movie, dons a bikini.

Rating: Two Mike and Ikes

Watch this movie, you will have fun!


  1. As this movie declares, Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character Brooks was conceived in an icy cave during the infamous Arctic Challenge dog sled finals.

    This wretched and forlorn Disney-produced rubbish must have been conceived when CEO Eisner was inebriated at the corner brewery and contemplating his days as a boy scout.

    Gooding's career would now best be served by him returning to the silent film era.

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