Snow Buddies

Snow Buddies (2008)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Dylan Sprouse, Dominic Scott Kay, Richard Karn, Jim Belushi,
Extras: Bloopers, Music Video, Dogumentary, Featurette, Buddy Bites

Continuing the successful series or "Air Bud" movies, here is the latest entry of this series, the Disney Family movie "Snow Buddies, " following the exploits of Bud and Molly's five puppies.

Unable to resist the lure of fresh ice cream, the five buddies are getting stuck in a cargo container filled with ice cream, on its way to Ferntiutuk, Alaska. Here they meet Shasta, a young Siberian Husky puppy whose dream it is to become a great dogsled leader. His owner, the 11-year old Adam (Dominic Scott Kay), shares this dream, as he wants to be come a musher.

Sadly, Adam's dad had an accident during last season's dog race and lost all of his dogs. Saddened he decided to abandon dog sledding and also doesn't want his son to be a part of the dangerous challenge.

So Adam, Shasta and the Buddies train in secret and enter the Ferntiutuk dog sled race unbeknownst to his parents. Together the team of youngsters have weather not only the deep freeze of Alaska, but also the other mushers, some of which will try to win at any cost.

Shot in British Columbia, the film has beautiful vistas of snowy mountain ranges that conjure up an atmosphere that is both romantic and adventurous. It makes for the perfect backdrop of the movie – albeit not a very realistic one, of course. Conditions in Alaska during the mushing season are dramatically different form what is depicted in the movie and I doubt that a bunch of Golden Retriever puppies would be able to survive the harsh climate on their own.

Nonetheless the film has a certain feel-good charm that is typical for a Disney Family movie. The can-do attitude of the dogs and the boy is wonderfully charismatic as they face challenges and obstacles. With their high spirits and good heart, it is clear form the beginning where this story leads us to, but frankly, I did not mind at all. I found "Snow Buddies" a charming little film that I could enjoy with my 7-year old son, that made us laugh together and talk about the film's beauty and the team's challenges.

Presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio, "Snow Buddies" looks great, offering up a print that is clean and without any defects. It nicely renders the whites and blues that make up the majority of the snow sequences, while also making sure that colors standout nicely in contrast. Black levels are solid, giving the image good visual depth. No edge-enhancement or compression artifacts mar the presentation.

On the audio side we have a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track that carries the film nicely. It is surprisingly aggressive at time, making good use of the surround channels. Dialogues are well integrated and always understanbable.

As extras the disc comes with a selection of made-up bloopers – some of which are pretty funny – and a music video. Also look for a "Dogumentary", a featurette on the movie's extensive special effects, including the dogs' talking animations.

As an additional bonus, especially for the younger ones, there is also a commentary by the Buddies themselves.

"Snow Buddies" is not a masterpiece of cinema, of course, but it is an uplifting movie that the entire family can enjoy. It is much better than some of the other "Air Bud" sequels, in part also because it offers a more serviceable script and much better acting.

So, if you want to do your kids something good and get some laughs for yourselves out of it, too, check out "Snow Buddies." If nothing else, the movie's wonderful vistas will want to make you visit Alaska.