The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation Movie Poster Image
Holiday sequel lacks zest but still has merit for families.
  • PG
  • 2010
  • 89 minutes

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Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The movie intends to entertain rather than to educate.

Positive Messages

The story has positive messages about patience, respect, and family bonds. Bella learns to look past Zeus’ appearance for his true inner worth. The Bannisters don’t always agree (adults bicker like kids, and a boy bullies his cousins by ruining their snowman), but in the end, even the most divided members come through for each other. That said, there is some potty humor, including farting, references to wetting pants, and a man telling his friend who’s eating snow that it’s yellow.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The adults are loving, caring parents, but George and Randy childishly allow their personal differences to strain the family’s relationships. In the end, they manage to strike a balance and realize some affection for each other.

Violence & Scariness

Slapstick physical comedy like a man tumbling down stairs, some minor falls, and a man being tackled by his brother-in-law. Some mild suspense, including one in which two robbers threaten a dog’s life.

Sexy Stuff

Sexy music plays while an attractive female dog enters the room. Comments like “He is so hot” and “I’m freezing my berries off” are a little suggestive, and there’s one passionate kiss between adults.


One instance of “damn,” some mild name-calling like “jerk,” and substitute cursing like saying that a dog “took a Shih-Tzu” on the rug. “Oh my God” and “shut up” are used a few times as well. 


The movie is set at Colorado’s Keystone Lodge and Resort, and the locale gets plenty of marketing from the frequent name placement on buildings, on clothing, and in dialogue. Other brands are visible in passing, including Columbia Sportswear on outdoor gear like gloves.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this sequel to The Dog Who Saved Christmas doesn’t live up to the original’s charm or emotion, but it still has merit for families. The Bannisters’ family drama will resonate with plenty of viewers, and the movie's messages about finding common ground are great for all ages. Bella learns to appreciate Zeus’ true inner character, which reminds kids of the importance of seeing past appearances. There's some potty humor (farts and the like), one use of “damn,” some heavy name placement for the real-life resort setting, and some suspense surrounding the kidnapping of a main canine character that might worry youngsters, but overall there’s nothing that should concern parents.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Kid, 8 years old December 11, 2010

What's the story?

It’s days before Christmas, and the Bannister family is ready to settle in at a cozy cabin in the snowy Rocky Mountains for a quiet holiday. But the unexpected arrival of Belinda’s (Elisa Donovan) rowdy brother, Randy (Casper Van Dien), throws a wrench in their plans and irks uptight George (Gary Valentine). When the Bannisters’ dog, Zeus (voiced by Mario Lopez), takes an interest in Randy’s poodle, Bella (Paris Hilton), things start to heat up, and the arrival of two inept criminals -- who just happen to be the ones Zeus stopped from robbing the family last Christmas -- further complicates the vacation. A twist of fate puts Stewey (Joey Diaz) and Ted (Dean Cain) on Zeus’ trail this time around, but when they threaten Bella’s life, the former police dog springs into action to rescue his beloved ... and salvage the family’s holiday.

Is it any good?

THE DOG WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS VACATION follows on the heels of the heartwarming original, but comes up a little short in both emotion and entertainment value. Sure, the chronic misfortunes of the likable “villains” are good for some laughs, and George and Randy’s infighting will ring true with viewers who have experience spending the holidays with obnoxious relatives, but overall, this movie lacks both sugar and spice.

The good news is that if you're inclined to tune in with your kids, you won’t have to worry much about the content. There’s some potty humor (farting and mention of wetting pants, for instance), mild suspense, and marginal language (one instance of “damn” and some name-calling like “jerk”), and the movie’s overuse of the resort setting’s name makes it feel like a commercial for Keystone, but other than that, it’s fairly tame and acceptable for families. Young kids may need some reassurance about a positive outcome when Bella’s held hostage by the robbers, but the movie’s messages about family ties and seeing past appearances are worthwhile for all ages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how you can judge someone’s character. How long do you have to know a person before you can get an accurate view of him or her? Have you ever prejudged someone? How does modern technology like social networking affect how we establish relationships?

  • In what ways is your family like the Bannisters? Are there times when it’s hard to be around certain relatives? Are you forced to grin and bear it, or do you air your frustrations with them? Is honesty always the best policy in circumstances like this?

  • How does this movie compare to the first one? Do you think it's always a good idea to make sequels? Which movies have you seen that you wish would have a sequel? Which ones could have done without follow-ups?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holiday movies

Themes & Topics

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