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
Nichelle Nichols
Graham Greene
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Edited by Roger Bondelli
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.


Dr. Theodore "Ted" Brooks (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is a dentist from Miami, Florida whose picture appears on every city bus in advertisements to promote his dental practice at the beginning of the film. When Brooks receives his letter from Alaska one day naming him as the only heir of a Lucy Watkins, his mother, Amelia (Nichelle Nichols), reveals that he is adopted. Brooks travels to the village of Tolketna to claim his inheritance left by his biological mother: seven Siberian Huskies and a Border Collie named Nana, and discovers his roots. Totally out of his element, Brooks has to experience 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--the winner of which is the last musher to finish--which is only two weeks away. During his stay in Tolketna, Brooks attempt to find the reason why he was given up for adoption, and including any information about his biological father. He meets a bar owner named Barb (Joanna Bacalso), who was a close friend of his biological mother. Eventually, Barb helps Brooks to deal with the dogs and teaches him how to drive a sled, and falls in love with him throughout the film. Brooks continues to encounter Thunder Jack, who wants all of his biological mother's sled dogs, and especially Demon. Barb tells Brooks that Thunder Jack is Brooks' real father. Brooks feels that the truth is worth the dogs themselves, and trades them to Thunder Jack. However, Jack tells Brooks that he and Lucy stayed in a cave during one of the Arctic Challenges. It is there that Brooks was conceived. The next morning, when Thunder Jack woke up, Lucy was gone. He says that he was looking for Lucy, but never found her. Lucy then gave Brooks up for adoption. With Demon, Thunder Jack takes part in the Arctic Challenge Race, but is unable to finish it when he attempts to gain time by continuing through a huge snowstorm. Meanwhile, Brooks, who just returned to Miami, learns that his personal journey to Alaska is unfinished. Infuriated by evidence found proving that Thunder Jack was at the hospital when he was born, Brooks returns to Alaska to look for answers. When Brooks learns of the missing musher and his team, he feels that this may be the opportunity to save a man, and perhaps find out the whole truth once and for all. Brooks sets out to rescue Thunder Jack, with Nana as the lead dog. He eventually finds Thunder Jack in the old cave, who confirms that he had been there when Brooks was born. Thunder Jack reveals that he and Lucy agreed then that neither one of them could raise a baby, and confessed his love for Lucy. Brooks also finds out the reason for Demon's bad temper is the pain caused by his bad tooth. He pulls it out and Demon now becomes a friendly dog (despite keeping his name). During the journey back to Tolketna, the sled nearly goes over a cliff into a river, but the dogs manage to pull themselves back up. Brooks finally brings Thunder Jack across the finish line. After Brooks introduces Thunder Jack to his adopted mother, Brooks and Thunder Jack decide to share their trophy together. Sometime later, Brooks and Barb are married and Nana and Demon have four puppies. Now having grown to love Tolketna, Brooks moves his dentistry practice there. Barb is shown to be pregnant and working as his receptionist. The film ends when back in Miami, Brooks' adoptive cousin, Rupert (Sisqó), becomes the new famous Miami dentist with his face on every city bus (possibly due to Brooks' absence).


Human roles[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.


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.


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]


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]


External links[edit]