UltimateDisney.com | DVD Review Index | Upcoming DVD Schedule: Disney / All Studios | Disney's Direct-to-Video Movies | Search This Site

Snow Buddies DVD Review

Buy Snow Buddies on DVD from Amazon.com Snow Buddies
Movie & DVD Details

Director: Robert Vince

Human Cast: Dominic Scott Kay (Adam), John Kapelos (Jean George), Lise Simms (Meg), Mike Dopud (Joe), Charles C. Stevenson, Jr. (Sheriff Ryan), Dylan Minnette (Noah), Richard Karn (Patrick), Cynthia Stevenson (Jackie), Tyler Foden (Bartleby Livingston), Jarvis Dashkewytch (Sam), Kelly Chapek (Alice), Kolton Nowaczynski (Paul), Cainan Wiebe (Pete), Gig Morton (Billy), Christian Pikes (Henry)

Voice Cast: Kris Kristofferson (Talon), Josh Flitter (Budderball), Henry Hodges (Mudbud), Liliana Mumy (Rosebud), Jimmy Bennett (Buddha), Skyler Gisondo (B-Dawg), Whoopi Goldberg (Miss Mittens), Tom Everett Scott (Buddy), Molly Shannon (Molly), Dylan Sprouse (Shasta), Lothaire Bluteau (Francois), Paul Rae (Phillipe), Jim Belushi (Bernie)

Running Time: 87 Minutes / Rating: PG

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: February 5, 2008
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5); White Keepcase with Embossed Slipcover

Buy from Amazon.com

By Kelvin Cedeno

Every studio has a franchise whose film count exceeds the usual trilogy standard. Some of these are more notable than others, and most continue what started theatrically in a direct-to-video phase. For Disney, their niche in this area is the Air Bud series.
The franchise may not immediately come to mind when one thinks of creations the studio has milked to death, and yet no other series (save for Winnie the Pooh) has reached such a high number of entries. There have been no less than six Air Bud films, of which only the first two were released theatrically. The seventh and latest installment, Snow Buddies, continues the talking animal trend started by 2006's Air Buddies.

In the second film to star Buddy's children, cleverly known as the Buddies, we find the pups living their daily routines. Their lives take a sudden turn, however, all thanks to their weakness for ice cream. They stow away in an ice cream truck not realizing that its contents are being shipped to Alaska. There, the Buddies meet an Alaskan Husky pup named Shasta (voiced by "Suite Life of Zack & Cody" star Dylan Sprouse) whose owner Adam (Dominic Scott Kay) longs to have his own dogsled racing team. Unfortunately, Adam's father Joe (Mike Dopud) is against these dreams, having experienced a traumatic incident himself while dogsled racing. Adam, Shasta, and the Buddies decide to form their own team without Joe knowing.

Budderball (Josh Flitter), Rosebud (Liliana Mumy), B-Dawg (Skyler Gisondo), and Buddha (Jimmy Bennett) watch as Mudbud (Henry Hodges) desperately digs a hole in the snow in search for mud. Adam (Dominic Scott Kay) catches up on some late night reading with his trusted companion Shasta (voiced by Dylan Sprouse).

If the plot sounds familiar, that's because it is. Snow Buddies feels like a dozen other films that feature such elements as a team of underdogs (excuse the pun) and a father suppressing his child from following dreams. The movie brings nothing new to the table, and this wouldn't be a concern if the presentation were worthwhile. Sadly, it isn't. The script is cloying and downright awkward at times. What are meant to be fun one-liners come out as forced and cringe-worthy. Characters are no more than two-dimensional cutouts. The Buddies' personalities don't go beyond adjectives: Rosebud is girly, Mudbud is dirty, Buddha is spiritual, Budderball is hungry, and B-Dawg is ghetto. The humans are painted squarely as either black or white, and there's very little development anywhere. 95% of the characters leave the story in the same form they entered.

What's most frustrating is the waste of voice talent on board. Kris Kristofferson, Jim Belushi, Whoopi Goldberg, and Molly Shannon are among the stars lending their voices to this film, yet each only has about six lines, which may be the reason they signed up in the first place. "Home Improvement"'s Richard Karn shows up in a live-action role (his third in the franchise), but it's basically no more than a cameo appearance. The focus is put squarely on Shasta, the Buddies, and Adam.
As the boy, Dominic Scott Kay ends up being the most prominent human actor and does his best to carry the scenes where the puppies don't speak. He voiced the character of Buddha for predecessor Air Buddies, but people are more apt to recognize him from the closing of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. He actually turns in one of the movie's better performances but still can't rise above the cheesiness of the script.

While Snow Buddies struggles from an artistic standpoint, it holds up pretty well from a technical one. Being a direct-to-video feature, this was obviously shot on a low budget. Even with that in mind, the production looks good on screen. Cinematography and score show more craft than one would expect from a product of this nature, and the CG effects (ranging from green screen to the moving mouths of the animals) are fairly decent. These aspects help make Snow Buddies more watchable than it should be, as does the undeniable cuteness of the puppies themselves.

Talon (voiced by Kris Kristofferson), trainer for Shasta and the Buddies, strikes a pose against a CG aurora. Shasta and the Buddies get in their dogsled positions for the off-screen trainer.

One can't help but feel this could've worked significantly better as a silent short film. Not only would that approach have gotten rid of the clunky dialogue, but it also would've made the story tighter as there is quite a bit of padding to be found in order to bring it to a feature-length running time. As it stands, Snow Buddies remains a harmless bit of fluff. While the script and performances are all over the place, the production itself looks good,
Costume Craze - Shop Our Large Selection: Pets
and it's hard to fault a film with such adorable leads. It's far from memorable or innovative, and one shouldn't go out of his way to see it, but there are certainly worse ways to spend 87 minutes.


Snow Buddies premieres on DVD in a 1.78:1 widescreen ratio enhanced for 16x9 televisions. As to be expected from a new film meant to be viewed at home, the transfer is pristine. Some wider shots come across as slightly soft, but otherwise sharpness is usually well delineated. Colors are vivid while still appearing natural, and the picture is entirely free of both print and digital artifacts.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is also very good. Directional dialogue is clean, and the prominent score amplifies the soundfield without being overwhelming. Sound effects are minimal due to this being more of a dialogue-driven track, but when used, the effects come across well enough.

Budderball enjoys the ice cream more than required in this bit from the blooper reel. Mitchel Musso and his hair appear in one of their many extreme close-ups for the video "Lean on Me." Director Robert Vince checks a shot while inadvertently patting Dominic Scott Kay on the head in the disc's "Dogumentary."


Unsurprisingly, the supplements are on the slim side of the spectrum. The first of these is a reel of Bloopers (3:10), which offers a mix between genuine on-set antics and staged ones featuring the voice cast. The footage from either category isn't very amusing, but it's harmless nonetheless.

Next is a music video for Mitchel Musso's "Lean on Me" (2:51). The video rapidly edits shots of Musso performing the song with clips from the film.
While it's nice to see Musso in the spotlight (as his "Hannah Montana" character faded into the background), this remake of the Bill Withers standard is a painful remix.

"Buddy Bites" is an audio commentary featuring the voice actors for Shasta (Dylan Sprouse) and the Buddies (Josh Flitter, Henry Hodges, Liliana Mumy, Jimmy Bennett, and Skyler Gisondo) reprising their roles. It's unclear who this commentary is aimed at. On one hand, the obviously-scripted discussion has a lot of cutesiness as the speakers consistently stay in character. On the other hand, in the midst of all this, nuggets of what seems to be real behind-the-scenes information emerge (albeit through character perspectives). In trying to please both markets, this commentary pleases no one. It's too kiddish for adults and yet too dull for kids.

Behind the Scenes holds two featurettes. The first of these, "Dogumentary" (7:11), acts a sort of video version of the "Buddy Bites" commentary. In it, the Buddies narrate behind-the-scenes footage and offer their character perspectives. Not much is divulged, but the footage on display is interesting enough to not make this a total loss.

Shasta does some treadmill walking for an effects shot. The main menu looks bare here, but with patience you'll see Adam and his dogsled team racing in and out of the frame getting closer towards the camera.

The section's other piece happens to be the last and most informative on the disc. Narrated by director Robert Vince, "Snow Buddies: The Magic of Visual Effects" (5:17), examines the film's fairly frequent use of CGI. Comparisons are made between what was shot on set and how that was later color timed with added effects. It's a brisk and useful featurette.

The disc starts off with anamorphic trailers for Disney DVD, 101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition, Wall-E, Sleeping Beauty: Platinum Edition,
Get 3 Disney Movies for $1.99 Each, Free Shipping!
The Aristocats: Special Edition, and a 4x3 promo for Disney Movie Rewards. All of these (minus the Disney DVD ad) can be found under "Sneak Peeks" along with trailers for Tinker Bell, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, Handy Manny: Fixing It Right, Little Einsteins: Race for Space, Hannah Montana: One in a Million, Twitches Too, and "Phineas & Ferb."

The animated main menu features Adam and his team sledding throughout the menu's landscape with St. Bernie following after them. The rest of the menus feature static images of each of the puppies. All of them are 16x9-enhanced and accompanied by the musical score.

The DVD's standard white keepcase is housed in the expected holographic, embossed slipcover. A two-sided insert listing the chapter selection on one side and the bonus material on the other. Also included are a booklet advertising upcoming Disney DVD releases and a Disney Movie Rewards code.

Adam, Shasta, and the Buddies spend the night in an igloo, a scene sure to inspire "awwws" from audience members. Joe (Mike Dopud), Meg (Lise Simms), and Adam, watch the puppies interact with each other, oblivious to their cutesy dialogue.


Snow Buddies strives to be nothing more than cute. While it certainly is that, it's a shame that quality couldn't have been dealt with more tact and care. The feature is clichιd and half-hearted, resulting not in an abomination, but in blandness. However, it's presented well on DVD with top notch picture and solid sound. Like the film, the extras gear towards children, though some nice behind the scenes footage emerges. This earns a recommendation to children who adore puppies and haven't been jaded enough to pinpoint spotty filmmaking. Everyone else remotely interested should either rent it or wait for the inevitable airing on the Hallmark Channel, where its flaws will actually be more forgivable.

More on this DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
New to DVD: The Aristocats: Special Edition • Hannah Montana: One in a Million • The Game Plan • Twitches Too • Daddy Day Camp
Air Buddies • Firehouse Dog • Eight Below • Underdog • Snow Dogs • Spymate • Sing Along Songs: Pongo & Perdita - 101 Dalmatians
Disney DVD Game World: Disney Dogs Edition • My Dog, The Thief • The Shaggy Dog (2006) • Old Yeller & Savage Sam: 2-Movie Collection
The Ugly Dachshund • Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition • The Fox and the Hound 2 • Cinderella II: Dreams Come True - Special Edition

The Cast of Snow Buddies:
Dominic Scott Kay: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End | Lise Simms: Phil of the Future: Gadgets & Gizmos
Richard Karn: Home Improvement: Season 7 | Kris Kristofferson: Where the Red Fern Grows | Jimmy Bennett: Evan Almighty
Josh Flitter: License to Wed | Tom Everett Scott: That Thing You Do: Tom Hanks' Extended Cut | Jim Belushi: The Wild
Liliana Mumy: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause | Dylan Sprouse: The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Sweet Suite Victory

UltimateDisney.com | DVD Review Index | Disney's Direct-to-Video Movies | Upcoming Disney DVDs | Recent Disney DVDs | Search UD

Reviewed February 6, 2008.