The Search for Santa Paws
By Joly Herman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Kids will love Santa's puppy, but watch out for sad moments.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This movie is intended to entertain rather than educate.
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.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
The movie is part of the popular "Buddies" franchise, which has merchandise associated with it.
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.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Based on 39 parent reviews
Really nice and heartfelt movie
Report this review
Not a cute Christmas movie
Report this review
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.
- On DVD or streaming: November 16, 2010
- Cast: Bonnie Somerville, Madison Pettis, Wendi McLendon-Covey
- Director: Robert Vince
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- MPAA explanation: Nada que pueda ofender a los padres para ser visto por los niños.
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Best Holiday Movies for Kids
Best Holiday TV Specials
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.See how we rate