Up was one of the best films I have seen in a long, long time. It might be my favorite Pixar movie to date and one of my favorite films ever. It solidified in my mind the Disney franchise as a solid deliverer of syrupy movie goodness. And since we know they recognize good when they see it, it makes the bad even more of a travesty.
As anyone who has been around me for any length of time can attest, I love the holidays. I love the decorations, the cheesy displays, and the specials. Oh, how I love the specials. I own something along the lines of 25 Christmas DVDs, from all the Rankin Bass classics to the Claymation one to the obscure (Life and Adventures of Santa, anyone? A Wish for Wings that Work? A VERY SMURFY CHRISTMAS???)
My point is, my bar is pretty low when it comes to acceptable holiday fare. So when my daughter pointed at the ad for Santa Buddies and said she just couldn’t wait to see it, I figured, why not? It’s a Christmas movie starring Golden Retrievers, for goodness sake. It should have been a slam dunk. (cue ominous Straight-to-DVD overtones)
I can forgive it the horrible CGI. I can forgive it the overwrought drama. But I cannot get over the feel-good premise that there is no better present for people with sick kids and no money than a free dog. And that is what it’s going for, right?
Call me a Grinch, but I was kind of rooting for poor maligned Christopher Lloyd the dogcatcher when the dad came into the pound and tried to guilt trip him into giving him that Yorkie thing while waiving the $300 adoption fee. “No,” says Doc Brown, before jumping into his DeLorean and going back to a time when he had a career.
“But I have no money!” pleads the father. “You HAVE to give me, free of charge, this adorable, extremely adoptable dog who is sure to be snatched up by the next old lady to walk through the door with nothing better to do with her retirement fund than spoil this dog. Because I want it and it would cheer our family up. At least until it gets sick, at which point I will bring it back to you because I am unable to treat it and then we’ll be even more depressed.”
“No,” reiterated the Reverend Jim, before jumping into his cab and driving to a place that serves something other than treacle for Christmas dinner. We are obviously supposed to be cheering for the misinformed undercompensated father, but I was rooting for the dogcatcher. It was around this time I realized I wouldn’t be enjoying this flick. I guess this is because I have been Christopher Lloyd- figuratively speaking-, looking someone in the face who obviously really, really wants me to give them something for free, who really, really can’t afford it otherwise. And being unmoved by their crocodile tears, because I’ve seen it all before.
But this is Disney, and since I’m not the screenwriter he was visited by three ghosts or in this case a talking dog-elf thing, and of course the poor puppy was placed on the doorstep of the desirous family on Christmas Eve, where he is sure to enjoy a life of benign neglect until they tire of him.
I wish I could write a Disney script, just once. In my version, the dad goes to a pet store at the mall, where the mean pet store owner says, “NO! You can’t have this dog for free!” The end.
Or wait! The mean pet store owner says no, and the dad goes on a quest and ends up pitted against the villainous Amish Puppy Mill Owner, Euthadiah Zoot. He is helped along on his quest by a big-hearted pit bull mix who ends up in the pound while he is helping the dad, and then he’s about to be euthanized and the dad has a change of heart and realizes that’s who he really wants and goes and bails him out.
Then he goes and works his butt off so he can pay his dog’s vet bills and take care of his entire family and they all live happily ever after, except for the fact that the mom is dead because seriously, no Disney movie is complete without a dead mother. The end.
Anyone know where to pitch this one? I think it’s a winner.