A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Puppy Star Christmas is a holiday-themed Pup Star tale from the folks who created Air Bud. It celebrates the marriage of lead Pup Star canine characters, Tiny and P.U.P., and the birth of their three puppies. The little heroes (as well as the whole world) are once again threatened by talking-dog villains, who set out to ruin Christmas. Like the other films in the franchise, this one features talking dogs, brightly colored silliness, musical production numbers, and slapstick action. Kids who are old enough to be comfortable with pratfalls, a gingerbread house briefly catching fire, beloved characters being held captive in a cage made of plastic candy canes, and wild reindeer rides should be OK with the comic violence. A reference to reindeer poop is about as naughty as it gets, but you can expect some intended-to-be-comic stereotyping (e.g., a Latina nanny, an effeminate staff member, etc.). As always, there's a happy ending, with some positive messages about the Christmas spirit, teamwork, and loving families.
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What's the story?
PUPPY STAR CHRISTMAS opens with the marriage of longtime sweethearts Tiny (voiced by Kaitlyn Maher) and P.U.P. (Mackenzie Sol), followed some months later by the birth of their three pups, Rose, Charlie, and Cindy. The pups are eager, mischievous, and adorable. The growing canine family, together with their human family, "Dad" Stephen (David Deluise), "Nanny" Ida (Denisse Ojeda), and young Lou (Makenzie Moss), are getting ready to celebrate their first Christmas together. First up is their television program's Christmas special. Excitement reigns. But into every holiday celebration a little rain must fall. Troublemakers Bark (voiced by George Newbern) and Kano (Diedrich Bader) manage to spoil the show while it's on the air. And that misdeed doesn't compare to the villains' even bigger plan: The Bark-Kano team are going to the North Pole and will spoil Christmas for everyone! They're out for money and they don't care who they hurt to get it. Their evil plot almost succeeds. It's only because of four accidental "stowaways" on Santa's reindeer-driven sleigh that Christmas, as well as Santa and Mrs. Claus, are saved -- with no time to spare.
Is it any good?
Young audiences who've warmed to the Pup Star gang with its goofy dogs, even goofier humans, exaggerated performances, and not-so-dazzling musical numbers won't be disappointed by this new entry. Robert Vince and company have been making low-budget crowd-pleasers for two decades, beginning with Air Bud in 1997. When you're a kid and you're fully engaged, it's not hard to overlook cheesy special effects, some truly awkward editing, and overblown performances. Quite the opposite: That's what makes movies like Puppy Star Christmas so endearing. The dogs are always cute, cuter, cutest. Their human buddies are dopey, but always warmhearted. There are no surprise endings. Messages are earnest and on the nose. Kids who can watch Santa Claus and his wife get kidnapped but clearly understand that the old guy will be rescued in time to take his fantastical ride on Christmas Eve will find plenty to enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's fun to watch dogs talk, both with one another and with the humans in their world. If animals could talk, what might you ask them? What would you like to tell them about yourself?
"Anthropomorphism" is a big word that means portraying an animal or other object with very human characteristics -- like Tiny or Bark, Bugs Bunny, or even the teapot from Beauty and the Beast. Can you create an anthropomorphic character? What animal or object would you choose? What would it sound like?
"Bad guy" characters Roland and Julio learn important lessons and change their behavior. Will you be surprised if, in the next Pup Star movie, they team up with Bark and Kano again? Will you mind? Why or why not? How important is it for the filmmakers to be consistent?
Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie? Did you find them funny? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: November 20, 2018
- Cast: Kaitlyn Maher, David Deluise, Richard Riehle
- Director: Robert Vince
- Studio: Air Bud Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Holidays, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild rude humor
- Last updated: September 19, 2019
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