Scoot & Kassie's Christmas Adventure (DVD)
Universal Studios / 2013 / 90 mins / NR
This is the type of movie that certain producers just love. It's a Christmas movie with a dog. What more do you need? If the production of direct-to-video films like Snow Buddies, Santa Paws and at least a dozen similar movies is anything to go by, you don't need much else to sell. Whip it up quickly, slap a simple cover on it with the dog in a santa hat and it's ready for the shelves by Christmas. Feel free to add a pun tagline to the cover as this film did for example ("Saving Christmas is a Ruff Job!").
But movies shouldn't be widgets and especially Christmas films. Holiday films should be special and memorable experiences that make you feel warm and fuzzy in the cold days of winter. I'm not even that big into Christmas, but still have a soft spot for How The Grinch Stole Christmas and the Charlie Brown Christmas special. That's because those were generally lovable films with great concepts and characters.
Scoot & Kassie only offers a pale imitation of previous Christmas movie tropes that'll have you pining for the classics. It's the story of a police dog lost downstream while chasing after the worst bank robbers in cinema history. Seriously, these dolts make the Sticky Bandits from Home Alone look like Oceans Eleven. The dog is soon discovered by the new girl in town, Kassie, who is finding it difficult to connect with her classmates. She does have a passion for music which leads to her serious involvement with the church choir. While raising money for charity with her newfound friends, she'll also have to deal with the previous bank robbers now ripping off charitable donations (from within a bank no less).
Normally I wouldn't be so peeved about the mundane and passing through the motions for these types of films, but there are a few too many kinks in this production. The entire film is very sloppily edited with too many cuts in what should've been simple scenes. The climactic confrontation with the lousy bank robbers feels way too clunky. What I found rather shocking is that while most of the violence against the dog is off-screen the director had no problem with displaying Scoot getting caught in barbed wire and drug into a river.
But if that doesn't bother you, Scoot & Kassie's Christmas Adventure delivers on the expected fluff. The child actors are all pretty cute, there are plenty of dog money shots and the whole thing ends with an extended choir segment. It's very tame and the criminals are such a minimal threat that the kids dispatch them with paintball guns. This is squeaky clean writing tailored made for the easily offended Christian market.
Incidentally, the only real thing I hate about this film is that there isn't enough to hate about it. It's not that I went in just looking for flaws; I seriously go into films like these hoping I'll discover something great. But just about everything in this film was expected as if the director were assembling IKEA furniture instead of a movie. I'm not even asking for that much out of a Christmas dog movie. Just give me some likable characters, some solid direction, some interesting story twist, some decent acting or anything out of the ordinary from the usual shtick. I don't even care if it's handled poorly. Please, just give me something to work with so I can avoid writing what every single person is thinking when they see this cover; it's just another by-the-book piece of holiday schmaltz.
This is another solid release from Universal with a crisp 1.78:1 transfer for DVD and an acceptable Dolby Digital 5.1 track. For a direct-to-video movie, it's the standard treatment which is still pleasing to both the eyes and ears as a cut above the rest.
The only extras included are a batch of forgettable deleted scenes and a short gag reel.
Scoot & Kassie's Christmas Adventure isn't the worst Christmas dog movie out there, but that hardly excuses it from being so routine. As far as holiday fluff goes, it's sure to please those who only desire a safe and inoffensive Christmas flick. In other words, it's exactly what you expect. I can only recommend this to those who truly desire an inoffensive, forgettable holiday movie for the family.