A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this heartwarming holiday tale has strong messages about the importance of seeing past first impressions to judge a person's (or dog's) true character. There's lots of emotion in the dog's pleas (audible only to viewers' ears, obviously) to stay with his new family, so little kids might need some reassurance that the outcome will be a happy one. Comedic mishaps considerably lighten the mood when robbers break into a home, but one uses a gun-like weapon, and they verbally threaten Zeus' life.
What's the story?
George (Gary Valentine) and Melinda Bannister (Elisa Donovan) are worried when they learn about a rash of robberies in their new neighborhood, but they have conflicting opinions on the best way to protect their home. George takes the initiative and adopts Zeus (voiced by Mario Lopez), a former award-winning police dog who should be perfect for the job. Unfortunately, they discover that Zeus isn't quite up to his working-day standards, so they agree to return him -- much to George's dismay. But when robbers move in on the Bannisters' turf, it's up to Zeus to put the past to rest and protect his new family.
Is it any good?
THE DOG WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS is another feel-good holiday tale that will have the whole family smiling by the end. The mix of a crafty young hero, two inept thieves, and a houseful of Christmas decorations may at first be reminiscent of Home Alone, but there's much more to it. Zeus' moving tale aside, a subplot surrounding a mysterious neighbor also reminds viewers that even though a person's (or dog's) inner spirit may not be obvious at first, it's still the true judge of their character.
There's no reason to sweat the content in this family-friendly comedy (a gun with suction-cup ammo and one noisy farting scene are about as iffy as things get), but if you've got a soft spot for second-chance animal tales, then you might want to grab the tissues before you settle in. Fiction or not, it's hard not to be moved by Zeus' desperate quest for a forever home.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how you define a "good" character in movies or on TV shows. In the shows and movies you watch, do the good guys win more than they lose? If so, how do they accomplish their goals?
Kids: How is violence used in comedy? What violence existed in this movie? Was it realistic? Does comedy downplay the seriousness of real-life issues like crime?
Does your family have pets? Who takes care of them? What does that care entail? Would you like to have other pets? If so, what kind? What kind of care would they need?
- In theaters: November 29, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: December 8, 2009
- Cast: Dean Cain, Gary Valentine, Mario Lopez
- Director: Michael Feifer
- Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild language and rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.