The Search for Santa Paws

Movie review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
The Search for Santa Paws Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Kids will love Santa's puppy, but watch out for sad moments.
  • G
  • 2010
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 36 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 18 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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

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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 8-year-old Written byLen Snark December 30, 2012

You guys weren't kidding were you?

I wish I'd read the parent reviews on here instead of just glancing at the main screen rating because this one left my daughter emotionally wrecked. Terri... Continue reading
Adult Written bycoffeecup12 December 6, 2010

True horror for a real dog!

I work for an animal hospital and saw first hand a real life tragedy for a small dog. A 3 1/2 year old child put her dog in a heated oven after watching this m... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byalsdkjfa December 23, 2016

Fantastic movie for all ages!

This movie is filled with joy and happiness about Christmas and hope. It contains positive messages about Christmas and will truly appeal to your emotions. This... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old December 16, 2020

Cute Movie!

This movie is adorable! It’s a good holiday movie if you’re a dog lover. As long as you watch it all the way through. It has a really happy ending. The only rea... Continue reading

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.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love celebrating the holidays

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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