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The Disney formula for a film is usually a story that has children or animals as protagonists, music that suddenly erupts at crucial plot points, and endings that reconcile children with animals and adults. The Search for Santa Paws fits that formula, yet something is a missing. It doesn't quite get to the finish line. But if what you're looking for is light holiday entertainment that doesn't require heavy concentration, this will work.
Synopsis When Santa and his new best friend, Paws, discover that the boys and girls of the world have lost the spirit of the season, they take a trip to New York City.
But after Santa loses his memory, it's up to Paws, a faithful orphan named Quinn (America's Got Talent's Kaitlyn Maher), her new friend Will (The Game Plan's Madison Pettis) and a wonderful group of magical talking dogs to save St. Nick and show the world what Christmas is really all about.
Cute but Predicatable and a Little Cliched Cute kids, cute dogs, cute elves. Gotta love that at the holidays. This Disney film has a lot of cute things about it (including a very fun toy store), but there's so much cuteness it will almost make your teeth ache. Good thing there are a few villains scattered around to shake things up. The plot is predictable, and you can probably guess what's going to happen after the first five minutes.
Kids, however, who love seeing people their own age on screen, will love it when they see themselves as heroes. There are way more girls than boys in this story, so it's probably more of a girls' film. There are also plenty of cute dogs to go around, so it's a double hit with the kids.
In addition to being predictable, the adult characters are pretty stereotypical and close to being caricatures of themselves. Their lines are cliched and you won't be surprised by much that's said or done. Still, that can be comforting if you just want to put something fun into the DVD player while you're baking cookies.
Dangerous Territory This film follows in the pawprints of other films by director Robert Vince. Animals talk, but only people who believe in the "spirit" of something can hear them. In this case, it's the "Spirit" of Christmas. That's not a bad thing to believe in - it's kindness, compassion, and generosity. But Vince takes the "spirit of Christmas" to a whole new level when he introduces things like a crystal that holds life, an icicle that has the power to restore life, and tears that bring inanimate objects back to life.
If I were to get all theological about it, there's stuff in this film that is a pale substitute for Christianity. It walks the fine line that mainline Christians try to maintain between Christianity and a vague spirituality that makes people feel good, but doesn't do anything for their soul. It tries to offer answers in inanimate objects that can only be found in Christ. For that reason, when you watch this film with your children, it would be a good idea to sit down and talk with them afterward about those aspects.
On a production level, it's an excellent movie. Not really any wrong notes here, but I'd prefer more originality and less vague spirituality.