12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue Movie Poster Image
Cute dogs can't save muddled sequel with constant peril.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Adversity can be overcome by hard work and cooperation. Telling the truth after behaving badly helps us gain forgiveness from others and from ourselves. The movie attempts to show that dancing is not "sissy stuff."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Emma is a courageous, loyal, honest, hard-working teen who is unafraid to face even the most perilous of situations. A doctor and a bank officer who initially turn a blind eye to an evil scheme, learn the error of their ways. Very little ethnic diversity.


A teen driver is in a severe auto accident, trapped under the car as a fire starts; he is seriously injured (broken back, paralysis). Villainous men are menacing in numerous scenes: they wield hypodermic needles, set fire to a barn with animals inside, mistreat animals, hold dogs captive, verbally threaten people, and perpetuate an unfounded rabies scare.


A couple of romantic teen kisses. Cheerleaders use mildly sexy dance moves to distract a basketball team.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 12 Dogs of Christmas: The Great Puppy Rescue is a sequel to the 2005 Depression-era family film 12 Dogs of Christmas. This time, however, the teens and dogs are subject to constant danger. Early scenes show a frightening car accident in which a main teen character is nearly killed and becomes paralyzed; an arch villain and his scary conspirator threaten the dogs' lives with fire, hypodermic needles, captivity, and neglect. An on-again, off-again teen romance includes a few kisses.

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What's the story?

12 DOGS OF CHRISTMAS: THE GREAT PUPPY RESCUE picks up six years after 11-year old Emma saved the day in the original film. Now a teen, Emma (a feisty Danielle Chuchran) returns to Doverville for the funeral of Cathy Stevens, her beloved surrogate mom. After an accident paralyzes Cathy's son, Emma learns that the Stevens farm for orphan dogs, which she helped to establish, is in grave danger. The mustache-twirling "richest-man-in-town" (a badly miscast Sean Patrick Flanery) wants the land for a dog-racing track, and he's willing to do anything to get it. The farm's mortgage hasn't been paid either! Summoning her old friends, Emma decides to stay in Doverville and (once again) put on a show to raise money and save the farm. But the obstacles and story-lines multiply... Emma encounters a deceitful doctor, an evil animal control officer, a rabies threat, a cowardly bank officer, a would-be clairvoyant, "Bing Crosby," AND an irresistible teen basketball player who may or may not be in league with the villain. Everybody's counting on Emma, but can she deliver miracles again?

Is it any good?

Too many story elements, characters, and threats combine to keep everything underdeveloped, hurried and slapdash, and, in many instances, entirely unresolved. In addition, amateurish and/or miscast actors in some of the roles and the filmmakers' decision to make a sequel with the very same structure as the first movie (kids coming together to put on a show and save the adorable dogs from evil-doers) contribute to the overall inadequacy of the project.

The film is earnest and tries hard to be heart-warming, but it's done in by not having the most elementary of "must-haves" -- an intelligent script, accessible plotting, and an original idea.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the right choice for Michael -- should he go to veterinary school or stay home to take care of the orphan dogs? Why? How might his accident influence his decision?

  • Why are movies with animals so popular? What makes a good animal movie?

  • Discuss the many threats to the orphan dogs in this movie. What were the filmmakers trying to accomplish by placing them in jeopardy so often? Were they successful in building suspense, or did it become confusing?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holidays

Themes & Topics

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