3 Holiday Tails

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
3 Holiday Tails Movie Poster Image
Dogs aren't the focus in wholesome relationship tale.
  • PG
  • 2011
  • 88 minutes

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

Positive Messages

True love can last a lifetime and ideally involves being best friends with your partner. Memories, friendship, family, and kindness are all worth cherishing. David seems to gain status in Lisa's eyes because he finished an MBA and got a company job as a Vice President. David's fiancée Kelly is obsessed with wedding planning and prefers luxury items to those with sentimental value. Respect your elders. Dogs are smart.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Katherine and Rod, an older couple, act as surrogate parents for Lisa and David, offering positive life and love advice. Lisa especially thrives on this as her own parents weren't very good role models for her, and she offers similar guidance to her niece. Males and females alike are respectful of those they love.


David and Lisa are pushed together into an awkward hug and later kiss when they get engaged. Myra kisses her male friend from school on the check and holds his hand. Rod and Katherine talk in bed about getting exercise "in other ways," then turn off the light and start kissing.


"Hell," "crappy," "damnit," "ass," and stand-ins for "bitch" like "ditch," "son of a b," "son of a blitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine at a party and bring wine to a picnic on the beach. Rod is said to have had seven drinks at a party, apparently to avoid awkward social encounters. A past incident with a spilled margarita is mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the TV movie 3 Holiday Tails offers a wholesome look at male-female relationships at different stages of life. It might seem the movie is about dogs given the title and cover art, but the pups don't play a major role in the story. Language is kept to a minimum and feels true-to-life (a man swearing when he hurts himself, or claiming he's "bored as hell"). Stand-ins for "bitch" like "ditch," "son of a b," "son of a blitch." There's no serious sexual content or even much innuendo beyond one exchange between two playful retirees. The film suggests marriage is meant to be taken seriously, as a commitment "for the rest of your life," and that it's better to have loved and lost than to have avoided relationships out of fear. Rod is said to have had seven drinks at a party, apparently to avoid awkward social encounters.

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What's the story?

In 3 HOLIDAY TAILS, Lisa (Julie Gonzalo) meets her upstairs neighbor, retiree Katherine (Alley Mills), on her first day in a new apartment near the beach. They become fast friends, and Lisa tells Katherine about her ex-boyfriend, David (K.C. Clyde), whom she clearly still has feelings for. Not long after, Lisa runs into David on the beach as she's out walking her three puppies and Katherine's grown dog Jake. The dogs interrupt David just as he's about to propose to his new girlfriend (Kelly Jansen), and one of the puppies, together with David's engagement ring, go missing. The incident, and David's newfound friendship on a local basketball court with Katherine's husband, Rod (Bruce Davison), bring David and Lisa back into regular contact. Sparks fly, and Katherine, Rod, and the dogs all maneuver to get the couple together again. Meanwhile, Lisa's niece Myra (Alex Peters) has a crush on a schoolmate.

Is it any good?

This TV movie might not win awards, but it offers a well-structured, if predictable, tale with a big heart. It's pleasant, as much for the story as for the warm beachfront setting. The acting is also solid, with the women especially standing out in the ensemble cast: Argentina-born Julie Gonzales in the lead, Alley Mills (the mom on The Wonder Years) as her surrogate mother figure, and Alex Peters as the niece. Perhaps not surprisingly, this movie may draw a more female audience.

The title neatly alludes to the story's three couples in three different stages of life as well as the three puppies the main character has adopted. But caveat: don't watch 3 Holiday Tails just for the dogs. They're adorably present throughout, but they're not the stars. Besides a few acts of minor meddling, they seem mostly to serve as inspiration for the pun-ny title and a recurring joke about "puppy love."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the three couples in 3 Holiday Tails. In what ways do they represent different phases of life and even different stages in a relationship? Who is the wisest, and why?

  • How do the dogs alter events in the lives of the characters? How do you think dogs are trained to "act" in a film?

  • What other films have you watched with stories involving dogs? How does this one compare?

Movie details

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