Snow Dogs

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Snow Dogs
Snow dogs.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian Levant
Produced by Jordan Kerner
Written by Jim Kouf
Tommy Swerdlow
Michael Goldberg
Mark Gibson
Philip Halprin
Based on Premise suggested by Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod 
by Gary Paulsen
Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.
James Coburn
Sisqó
Nichelle Nichols
Graham Greene
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Edited by Roger Bondelli
Production
company
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release dates
  • January 18, 2002 (2002-01-18)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $33 million
Box office $115 million

Snow Dogs is a 2002 American comedy film directed by Brian Levant, and starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and James Coburn. The film was released in the United States on January 18, 2002 by Walt Disney Pictures. The film is inspired by the book Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen.

Plot[edit]

Dr. Theodore "Ted" Brooks (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is a dentist in Miami, Florida. Every city bus carries an advertisement for his dental practice with his picture.

One day, Ted receives a letter from Alaska, naming him as the only heir of one Lucy Watkins, a resident of the backwoods village of Tolkeetna. Brooks' mother Amelia (Nichelle Nichols) reveals that he is adopted; Lucy was his biological mother.

Ted travels to Tolkeetna to claim his inheritance from Lucy: seven Siberian Husky sled dogs and a Border Collie named Nana.

In Tolkeetna, he discovers his roots. Totally out of his element, Ted experiences challenges he has never dreamed of: blizzards, thin ice, foxes, skunks, bears, an intimidating, crusty old mountain man named James "Thunder Jack" Johnson (James Coburn), and the aggressive, defiant lead dog, Demon. All of this happens with the buzzing excitement of the Arctic Challenge Sled Dog Race, which is only two weeks away.

Ted tries to find out why he was given up for adoption, and who was his biological father. He meets bar owner Barb (Joanna Bacalso), a close friend of Lucy. Barb helps Ted to deal with the dogs and teaches him how to drive a sled, and falls in love with him. Ted has several encounters with Thunder Jack, who tries to buy the dogs, especially Demon. Barb tells Brooks that Thunder Jack is his biological father.

Ted confronts Thunder Jack, who offers to tell the truth about of Ted's birth in exchange for the dogs; Ted agrees. Jack takes Brooks to a cave out in the woods. During an Arctic Challenge, he and Lucy were stranded in that cave, and it was there that Ted was conceived. The next morning, when Thunder Jack woke up, Lucy was gone. He looked for her but never found her. Ted returns to Miami.

Thunder Jack adds Demon as lead dog of his team for the Arctic Challenge. Jack has finished last in the last three Challenges, "winning" the "Arctic Flame" award as last "musher" to cross the finish line. The other mushers all camp at a checkpoint to wait out a bad storm, but Jack presses on. (He is annoyed by the pretensions of defending champion Olivier (Jean Michel Paré), who is dining on crab legs in an elaborate tent.)

In Miami, Ted recounts his experiences to his mother, who accidentally breaks a frame holding a picture of Lucy and Demon. This reveals a snapshot of Lucy and Jack with a baby. Ted is infuriated that Jack lied to him, and rushes back to Alaska.

There he learns that Jack is lost on the trail, and the weather is too bad for searching. Ted decides to go searching himself, taking Lucy's dogs with Nana as lead. As he heads back down the trail, he nearly collides with Olivier, who wins the Challenge again.

A few hours later, Amelia arrives and meets Barb. She learns that Ted is out on the trail, searching for Jack. The "Arctic Flame" is burning over the finish line, until the last musher arrives.

Ted eventually locates Thunder Jack in the old cave. Jack admits he and Lucy had been together when Ted was born, and that he loved her. But he and Lucy had agreed then that neither one of them could raise a baby. Ted also discovers that Demon is bad-tempered because he has a bad tooth. He pulls the tooth and Demon becomes friendly (despite keeping his name). During the journey back to Tolkeetna, the sled nearly goes over a cliff into a river, but the dogs pull themselves back up. Ted finally brings Thunder Jack across the finish line.

Ted introduces Thunder Jack to Amelia, and Brooks and Thunder Jack decide to share the "Arctic Flame" trophy.

Sometime later, Ted and Barb are married.

In an epilogue, Ted has moved his dental practice to Tolkeetna. Barb has become his receptionist and is pregnant, and Nana and Demon have four puppies.

Back in Miami, Ted's cousin Rupert (Sisqó), also a dentist, is the new celebrity dentist, with his face on every city bus.

Cast[edit]

Human roles[edit]

Animals[edit]

  • Fly as Nana
    • Dash as Nana (stunt double)
  • Don Juan/D.J. as Demon
    • Cody as Demon (stunt double)
  • Floyd as Mac
  • Speedy as Scooper
  • Nando as Diesel
  • Buck as Sniff
  • Koda as Yodel
  • Gloria as Dutchess
  • Grizzly Bear as the Bear
  • Flower as the Skunk
  • Red Fox as the Fox

In some scenes, the faces of the dogs are partially animated to give them human expressions like winking or smiling. The animatronic version of Demon was created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop and performed by David Barclay.

Production[edit]

The film's budget was US$33 million. Canmore, Alberta, Canada was used to film the fictional city of Tolketna, Alaska. The dogs D.J., Koda, Floyd and Buck also starred in the adventure film, Eight Below. Many of the dogs and mushers used in the film were locals. Two of the hero team doubles and all of Olivier's team were supplied by Nakitsilik Siberians of Bridge Lake, British Columbia. Mountain Mushers' from Golden BC supplied the Thunder Jack team. Old Ernie's team was supplied by Russ Gregory from Calgary, Alberta. Arcticsun Siberian Husky Kennel from Edmonton, Alberta was one of many kennels — including Czyz, Snowy Owl, Gatt racing — from the area that supplied background for the film. Two of the dogs came from Kortar Kennels, in Ontario. The animatronic effects were designed and built by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The special effects were provided by The Secret Lab, the special effects division of Disney.

Reception[edit]

The film received generally negative reviews, with a 24% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 80 reviews.[1] It was however, a financial success, earning $115 million worldwide against a $33 million budget.[2]

Awards[edit]

John Debney won the ASCAP Award in 2003 for the soundtrack.

Pop culture[edit]

Referenced in the Gilmore Girls Season 2 episode, "Teach Me Tonight".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]