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Monday, December 23, 2013

Top 10 Animal Related Christmas / Winter themed movies to watch part 1 of 2

Ah, Christmas is just a few days away, and if you are looking for some Christmas or winter related movies with pets and animals in them, here are some you might like.  Here is the list and trailers for them.  Note: this list is too long to do in one post so I will break this up into 2 posts.

1. Jingle All the Way (with Jingle the husky)



I remember seeing Jingle all the Way (with Jingle the Siberian husky) last year and thought it was pretty cute.  It is a animated film about a husky named Jingle that befriends a boy and his family and sets out on an adventure to join them.  Definitely a story kids will like.

2. Snow Buddies



If you like golden retrievers or Siberian huskies, you will probably like this Disney movie.  It is one of the newer movies in the Airbud franchise (though the latest one is Super Buddies) featuring Airbud the Golden Retriever, his "wife" along with several different golden retriever puppies.  In this installment, the buddies try to raid an ice cream truck in Fernfield, WA and accidently find themselves going on a trip to a town in Alaska and meet up with a Alaskan husky (which looks more like a Siberian husky than an Alaskan husky in my opinion) name Shasta and a boy named Adam who wants to start his own dog sled team and go on a dog sled race.  There are some Christmassy themes in the movie too as well.  I also like how the dogs are able to "talk" in the movie (much like how it is in homeward bound).  Foods for thought: 1) most of the movie was actually filmed in the Vancouver area of British Columbia (namely near Lander BC and the Mt Seymoor area).  2) Fernfield does not seem to be a real town in Washington State, though I think the name might be referring to Ferndale, Washington (which is a town located about halfway between between Bellingham and Blaine here in Washington).  3) Shasta: an Alaskan husky or Siberian husky?  While the movie claims that he is an Alaskan husky, Shasta looked more like a Siberian husky to me.  Alaskan huskies are basically a mutt version of the Siberian husky and are often used as sled dogs in Alaska (especially for dogsled races like the Iditarod) and look more like the dogs I saw in Skagway Alaska (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tg8oaTUOJQ) to see what Alaskan huskies look like). 
(note this list will be added to over time).

3. Batman Returns


While Batman Returns is not really a Christmas movie per se, it does have some Christmassy themes in it (like Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and snow).  Anyways, Batman Returns is definitely a hit if you like superheroes and DC comic characters.  It is the 2nd of the 1980s' era Batman (directed by Tim Burton, with Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman) and is arguably one of the darkest installments in the series, though it does have lots of action in it where Bruce Wayne returns as Batman and this time around he is up against the evil Penguin (who was a gangster rejected at birth and wants to become mayor in Gotham) and the seductive and sinister Selena Kyle / Catwoman (who is madly in love with Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter ego), which complicates matters.  Animal-wise, the film features cats (though they are mostly black cats), penguins (though I am not sure if they are real penguins or not), and bats.  While this film may be too dark for children, it is definitely a thrill ride worth watching around Christmas time.

4. Snow Dogs


Here is another film for those of you who like Siberian huskies as well as those of you who like border collies.  While this film may be a little cheesy for adults, kids will probably like it.  In this winter comedy (which seems to be somewhat of a parody to the movie, Iron Will), there is an African American dentist named Ted who has been living a comfortable life in Miami, Florida.  However unbeknownst to Ted, in reality, he was adopted as a baby with his "parents" being his adoptive parents, and naturally, the course of Ted's life makes dramatic turn when he learns that his real mother had died (the movie doesn't really elaborate on the back story) and he was included in her will.  He goes to Alaska to collect on his will, which turns out to be his mother's cabin in the woods near the small town of Tolketna, Alaska along with all of her dogs, which includes a border collie and 7 Siberian huskies (including an unusually aggressive Siberian husky named Demon).  Ted soon moves to Alaska and slowly adjusts to the life in Alaska, along with learning to bond with the dogs as well as learning how to raise a sled dog team (with funny results too).  In addition, he must also deal with a cranky mountain man named Thunder Jack (who is really Ted's biological father unbeknownst to Ted) that is jealous of Ted and wants the sled dogs (he wants to use them in the upcoming Arctic challenge dog sled race), which makes things more interesting.  This movie ends with a happy ending (I won't spoil it for you) and is is pretty funny to watch and is definitely a cute movie to watch if you like sled dogs.  Foods for thought: 1) it appears that much of the movie (at least the "Alaska" portion) was filmed in Alberta (Canmore/Banff area) which is pretty much in the Canadian Rockies near Jasper National park.  Also, I wonder if Tolketna Alaska is referring to Talkeetna Alaska (which is a town in Alaska that is situated about halfway between Ancorage and Fairbanks  2) Interestingly, when Ted first meets the huskies, they attack him and in my experience, huskies are not normally aggressive dogs (not that they are never aggressive) and are usually friendly around strangers.  I saw one husky in Whistler that didn't seem very friendly, but most huskies and malamutes I have seen are friendly dogs and will usually let you pet them if you approach them.  Some can be playful too (I often see this with malamutes by the way, like the one I saw at the Dry Falls area in Washington a few years ago as well as a young malamute I saw at the evergreen state fair last summer). 

5. Muppet's Family Christmas


  In my opinion, no Christmas is complete without watching Muppet's Family Christmas at least once.  The movie is definitely a guilty pleasure to watch as an adult but can be popular with families and kids around Christmas time (I know my family usually watches it at least once or twice around Christmas time each year).  It is basically about the Muppets gang getting together and visiting Fossie's Mother at her farm house (though they seem to catch her by surprise as she was originally planning to go to Malibu California for Christmas). While celebrating the holidays at the farm house, the gang is also eventually joined by other characters in the muppet's universe including the Sesame Street Gang, Miss Piggy (who was out shopping when a blizzard hit), and the fragile rock gang (seems to be one of the few cross over movies involving characters from Muppets, Sesame Street and Fragile rock.  In addition to the Muppets, Doc (the man who was originally planning to stay at Fossie mother's house) has a dog named Sprocket (not sure what breed he is) which is somewhat entertaining too.  The movie is also famous for its songs, the humorous incident where a talking turkey meets up with the Swedish chef (don't worry nobody dies in the movie) who wants to cook the turkey, tributes to Muppet Babies, and other clich├ęs.  It is hard to really get into the details about the movie without spoiling it, but it is definitely a funny and cute movie about Muppets and animals.  This movie might be too lighthearted for teenagers and young adults, but kids and families will likely like the movie.  My only disappointment in the movie is that the current (VHS/DVD) version of the movie is somewhat shorter than the original cut since the original version had longer scenes, more music (like the scene that plays tribute to Muppet Babies where the younger version of the Muppets sing "Santa Claus is coming to town", which was much longer in the original cut) and was funnier to watch.  Though, according to Wikipedia the edits were due to copyright issues (which prevented them from showing up on the final cut).

Well, that is all for part one.  Stay tuned for part 2.  By the way, do you have movies that should be added to this list?  Feel free to leave a comment below.