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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Doggie Movie Spotlight: Snow Dogs

Considering that it is in the middle of winter, one doggie related movie I like to watch sometimes is Snow Dogs.


What Snow Dogs is about:


It is a comedy style movie back in 2002 about a dentist, named Ted Brooks.  It starts out in Miami, Florida where Ted is a successful dentist following in his "father's" footsteps.  Unbeknownst to him is that he is actually adopted and his biological parents are from a small town called, Toketna, Alaska (probably named after Talkeetna, Alaska) and are basically dog sled racers.  Initially, he is a dentist, lives in an apartment in Miami, his "father" has passed away (though his mother is still around) and even seems to hate dogs (most notably the barking poodle next door), and was living an otherwise seemingly comfortable lifestyle.  One day in a major life changing event however, Ted's real mother, Lucy passes away (the movie is not clear on why and how she died or what her story was) and he gets summoned to Alaska to collect on the will Lucy left for him, which turns out to be her cabin in the woods, along with all of her dogs, namely a border collie and 7 rowdy siberian huskies, including one unusually aggressive one, named Demon.  Upon arriving in Alaska, Ted's real adventure begins and faces all kinds of challenges and adversity as he adjusts to the new Alaskan lifestyle, including the very cold winter, a cranky and jealous old man named Thunder Jack (who unbeknownst to Ted is actually his father, James Johnson), unruly siberian huskies (especially demon) to tame, along a Saloon lady (Barb) who soons starts crushing on Ted after arriving in Tolketna.  He also must learn to leave his old lifestyle behind and take on dog sled racing.  I won't say more about the story as I don't want to spoil it for you.

Primary characters in the movie (for the full list of characters, you can read about them at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0281373/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast):
- Ted Brooks.  He is an African American dentist from Miami, Florida and is the primary protaganist in the movie. After going to Alaska, his life is radically changed and he learns how to become a dog musher.
- Amelia.  She is Ted's adoptive mother from Miami.  She always likes to check in on Ted, especially after going to Alaska.  Unbeknownst to Ted, Amelia was Ted's adoptive mother and his real mother was from Alaska and was deceased.
- Lucy.  She was Ted's biological mother and for unknown reasons, was deceased sometime before the events of Snow Dogs.
- Thunder Jack (aka James Johnson).  Initially he was the antagonist in the movie, being a cranky old mountain man that becomes jealous of Ted after he arrives in Alaska and inherits Lucy's dogs.  Why Lucy didn't give Thunder Jack the huskies (especially Demon), I have no idea, but Ted has them and Thunder Jack wants them (especially Demon) so that he can use them in the upcoming Arctic Challenge sled dog race.  Eventually it is revealed that he is really Ted's father and gradually warms up to Ted and becomes less antagonistic towards him, though he is always willing to buy Ted's dogs off of him.
- Rupert.  Ted's best friend and coworker in Miami.
- Barb.  She is a somewhat firey bar waitress (possibly bar owner) at a saloon in Tolketna and basically becomes Ted's love interest upon arriving in Tolketna.

Noteworthy dogs:
- Nana.  She is a border collie and develops a bond with Ted after he arrives at Lucy's cabin.
- Demon.  He is a siberian husky that has an unusually aggressive personality, especially around Ted.  He has one weakness though: it appears if he can be tamed if you "bite him in the ear".  He seems to be the alpha dog in the husky pack that Ted inherits.
- Other siberian huskies.  In addition to Demon, there are 6 other siberian huskies that Ted inherits too.  I won't get into the details of all of them though.  One husky appears to be a female husky by the way, though most of them appear to be male.  Initially they are aggressive at first around Ted, but they warm up to Ted alot sooner than Demon does.
- Poodle.  This was the yapping dog next door to Ted while he is in Miami.

Things I liked about Snow Dogs:

- Can be a good winter themed movie to watch featuring dogs
- Who doesn't like siberian huskies?  Let alone 7 of them
- It is a comedy adventure

Things I did not like about the movie:
- Can be a little cheesy and childish at times.
- There do seem to be some plot holes in the movie.  For example, what was the full story behind Lucy and Thunder Jack?
- The movie is not really filmed in Alaska.  Instead it was filmed in Alberta, Canada.  Going to the real Alaska would have been nice.  Though Canadian rockies in Alberta does have a northern style feel and can feel like you are in Alaska, especially during the winter.

Tidbits for thought (contains spoilers)

1. Did you know that much of the movie was filmed in Canmore Alberta?  Probably explains the scene later in the movie where Amelia arrives on the scene in "Alaska" and the taxi driver seems to want Canadian money (probably bad acting skills on his part).  Though Alberta and British Columbia are not too far away from Alaska (you could probably get there pretty quickly from Calgary or Vancouver via airplane).  You can also drive to Alaska from Canada, but it is definitely a multiday trip considering that Alberta and British Columbia are huge.  Of course, Alberta is much closer to Alaska than Mia

2. Siberian huskies as aggressive dogs!?  In the movie, when Ted first meets his new dogs, while Nana is generally friendly around Ted, the siberian huskies try to attack him (though they are not first introduced until Ted opens up a food cabinet that a husky was hiding in).  Then you also have Demon that is even more aggressive around Ted.  He doesn't hesitate to snarl at Ted, chase him up a tree or even snap at Ted at times.  While the other huskies warm up to Ted early on, it is not till towards the end of the movie when Demon finally warms up to Ted.  In my experience with Siberian huskies, the vast majority of the ones I have seen are rather friendly around people (even total strangers) and are not aggressive.  Here is a video on youtube that illustrates this point:



(more tidbits will be added later)

What do you think?  Feel free to comment below