What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cinnamon -- which is aimed directly at younger kids and tweens -- has a surprising amount of kissing for a movie targeted at that audience, as well as thematic material about divorce and widower-hood relationships, blended families, and the dating life of teenage daughters. But other than a few incidents of pushing and shoving, there's nothing violent, and this dog tale is ultimately about building a new, loving family unit.
What's the story?
CINNAMON (voiced by former Disney star Brenda Song) is a seriously spoiled Maltese who's used to getting her own way, particularly when it comes to her indulgent "mommy," divorced single mother Madeline (Cynthia Gibb). But things change for little Cinnamon when Madeline meets Kevin (Greg Evigan), a handsome widower with a 13-year-old son, Jordan (Kendall Ryan Sanders). Unhappy with the prospect of not being Madeline's center of attention, Cinnamon starts a strategic campaign to sabotage Madeline and Kevin's whirlwind romance. Eventually, Cinnamon must decide whether she wants Madeline to be unhappy -- but all hers -- or to share her owner with the man of her dreams.
Is it any good?
Family films require a delicate balance, lest "wholesome" quickly turn into "bland" and "kid friendly" become an adult snoozefest. While CINNAMON isn't completely boring, it's a strange hybrid of post-divorce romance, middle-school puppy love, and talking-dog comedy. The humor is pretty forgettable (mostly slapstick gags), and the story feels overlong for such a paper-thin plot (dog likes being the apple of her owner's eye and attempts to destroy her favorite human's chance at love).
For such a low-budget live-action film, Gibb and Evigan are surprisingly capable actors, but their on-screen kids come off as more annoying than relatable. Plus, let's face it -- there are only so many ways an audience can watch a dog come between her owner on a date before it (quickly) starts to fall flat. Just as Madeline and Kevin deserve their love to grow, families deserve movies that aren't just mediocre. Sadly, Cinnamon isn't nearly as tangy or sweet as the title implies.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the popularity of talking-animal films. Why are animals that speak so often featured in family films?
Although Cinnamon is a dog, her reluctance to share her "mommy" could apply to the way kids feel when their single parent starts dating. Is Madeline and Kevin's relationship a good example of how to handle a blended family?