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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Search For Santa Paws

November 21st, 2010

The Search For Santa Paws - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack

The Search For Santa Paws is the fifth film in the Air Buddies direct-to-DVD franchise, which is a spin-off to the Air Bud franchise. While it is the fifth film in the franchise, it is actually a prequel to Santa Buddies, which I previously reviewed. I was not a fan of that film, but is this one better?

The Movie

The film starts out with a trio of storylines that eventually meet up. The first is about the death of Mr. Hucklebuckle, who ran a toy shop and was a personal friend of Santa Claus. As part of his last will, he leaves his toy store to his son, James Huckle, under the stipulation that he run it for one Christmas, at a profit, before it can be sold. The second storyline involves Santa Claus directly. As part of the same will, Santa is given a plush dog, as a reminder of their friendship. But he is so hurt by the passing of his friend, that the elves decide to use the Great Christmas Icicle to bring it to life, and Santa names him Santa Paws. The final storyline looks at the lives of half-a-dozen orphan girls at an orphanage run by Ms. Stout, a nasty woman who hates Christmas, and children in general. The oldest kid is Willamina, who helps protect the kids, especially the new girl, Quinn.

The storylines start to collide when Santa and his dog head to New York City to see what is wrong with the Christmas spirit there. It seems spirit been low ever since Mr. Hucklebuckle died. But after landing in New York City, Santa's hit by a taxi and knocked out, and while Santa Paws goes looking for someone to help, a homeless man steals Santa's crystal causing him to forget who he is. Fortunately, the Huckles are looking for a store Santa and he certainly fits the bill. Santa Paws, meanwhile, finds a group of street dogs and eventually meets the girls of Ms. Stouts orphanage. Quinn and the younger girls are amazed to find a talking dog, but Willamina only hears barking, because she's lost the Christmas spirit as well. In fact, so many people have lost their Christmas spirit, that Santa's become ill. Now it will take everyone working together to make sure Santa's okay and Christmas can be saved.

This film suffers from many of the same problems as the previous film, namely it is predictable to a fault while the bad guys are such caricatures that it is hard to take on any level. On the other hand, it is a bit of a step up in a few areas. For instance, the air buddies don't show up, because it is a prequel, which means we have fewer talking animals to deal with and little kids are more tolerable than talking animals. We do get a trio of new talking dogs, but they are not on the screen long enough to be that irritating. They are irritating when they are on screens, as they have really stereotypical voice (the Scottish Terrier speaks with a bad Scottish brogue, the black dog speaks like a Rastafarian, while the bulldog speaks like B-Dawg). I'm not saying its a great movie, or even a good movie. However, it is acceptable for the target demographic. That's pretty tepid praise, but more than the last few films in the series have earned.

The Extras

I only have the Blu-ray, but it comes with the DVD, so it shouldn't be too hard to figure out which extras come with which version. The DVD has The Hucklebuckle Hero a semi-animated story about T-Money, which was one of the more irritating new characters introduced in the movie. There is also a music video for "Deck the Halls" by Debby Ryan of Suite Life on Deck. There are 12-minutes of deleted scenes, that are only viewable in one large chunk. Finally, you can watch the movie in "Sing-along" mode, or you could watch it with the sub-titles on to similar effect. The Blu-ray has no additional extras, but it certainly looks great, especially for a Direct-to-DVD release. The audio is better than most, but outside the score, the surround sound speakers are mostly underused. It does cost $7 more, which is acceptable for the Blu-ray / DVD Combo pack.

The Verdict

If you or your kids liked Santa Buddies, then I'm quite sure you'll like The Search For Santa Paws. Personally, I would recommend a rental, but if you are intent on buying, the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack is the better deal over the DVD.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Search for Santa Paws