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 extension of the popular "Buddies" puppy franchise will be appealing to kids, but the movie's themes of loss, neglect, and abandonment might be too intense for very young or sensitive children. Some action takes place in a foster home, where a mean caregiver locks kids in a basement and takes away mementos of their dead parents. There are also mixed messages about the "true" meaning of Christmas (loot or love?) and how adoption works. But if kids can stomach the harsh stuff, the talking puppy and jolly Santa will surely bring them joy.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Santa's workshop is operating at full tilt -- until Santa (Richard Riehle) gets a message on his birthday that his friend Mr. Hucklebuckle has passed away. This sad news is accompanied with the gift of a very special dog, whom Santa calls Paws. Meanwhile, Mr. Hucklebuckle's grandson has taken over the toy store, which is near a foster home. Santa plans a visit but has an accident on the way and needs the help of Paws and the girls from the foster home. But can they work together to save Santa -- and Christmas?
Is it any good?
This musical take on the modern-day Christmas story holds a lot of appeal for kids, since there are talking puppies, a jolly Santa and elves, and brave girls. But the emotional punches delivered might be too intense for the youngest viewers, who are confronted with the notion that parents die and kids are put into foster homes, plus the idea that if prospective parents "think you are cute, then they will take you home."
This isn't a new theme -- there are lots of hard-luck stories out there. But this movie is embellished with cute puppies and lots of toys, which makes the gritty scenes of girls being thrown into the basement look more like child abuse than something a kid can simply shake off. That said, the payoff is pretty great when it comes. The rosy times glow a little brighter, but viewers might be a touch too sad to enjoy the rewards of a happy ending.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the spirit of Christmas. How does this movie define it? What does the spirit of Christmas or the winter holidays mean to your family?
Quinn and Will are in a foster home. What are foster homes really like? What purpose does this movie's negative depiction of foster homes serve?
When you see all of the toys in this movie, do you want to have some of them? Check out some of the ways that media influences kids to buy stuff.
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