The Search for Santa Paws Movie Poster Image

The Search for Santa Paws

Kids will love Santa's puppy, but watch out for sad moments.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

This movie is intended to entertain rather than educate.

Positive messages

Tragedy and loss serve as the springboard for happier times. Kids and adults (and puppies and elves) come together to help save Santa and save Christmas. On the other hand, the "Christmas spirit" is always tied in with presents or nice clothing, and much of the action takes place in Santa's workshop or in a toy store, emphasizing the loot that kids get for Christmas.

Positive role models

Santa is a paragon of good cheer and understanding. He brings light to everyone he meets, even when he forgets that he's Santa. Miss Stout is very mean, but she's clearly the "bad guy" here.

Violence & scariness

No bash-'em-up violence, but foster caregiver Miss Stout pulls at children's hair, puts them in the basement to punish them, and takes away remembrances of their deceased parents. Perilous moments in a garbage incinerator.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

The movie is part of the popular "Buddies" franchise, which has merchandise associated with it.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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.

Families can talk 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.

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:November 16, 2010
Cast:Bonnie Somerville, Madison Pettis, Wendi McLendon-Covey
Director:Robert Vince
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Parent of a 3, 5, and 9 year old Written byenocat December 2, 2010

NOT a happy holiday movie.

Grandma bought this for my kids to get them in the holiday spirit - it was horrible. All three of my kids 3,5 and 8 were in tears at more than one point in the movie. Its just sad thing after sad thing - there is nothing happy until the very end. We won't watch it again. Don't waste your money.
Parent of a 7 year old Written bymorga November 26, 2010

Inappropriate for young children

This movie is not appropriate for young children. My seven year old daughter went to bed in tears and we didn't even finish watching the novie. There are too many sad moments. Santa Clause gets run over by a taxi cab and his possessions stolen while he lies in the street. A mean sadistic woman runs a foster home. She throws children in the basement when they misbehave and burns their toys in the incinerator. Santa Clause gets very ill and nearly dies at the end of the movie. Santa Paws is a stuffed dog brought to life by a magic crystal. His crystal is stolen by the foster mom and she throws him into the incinerator. I do not recommend this movie for young children.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byembeau November 26, 2010

Not a family movie, just scary and inappropriate

The horrible woman who watches over the kids in the orphanage incinerates their toys as she does not allow toys in the home. (Going so far as to take a three year old child's toy given to her by her dead mother.) Children are forced to sleep in basement when they misbehave. This is not a childrens' movie and was frightening to our daughter . Not a family movie!
What other families should know
Too much violence