Shit Ain't Like That

So this past weekend I had my son, and one of the things we did along the way was visit Blockbuster to get some movies to watch. I let him choose the films he wanted, and we ended up with a Disney Dog Double-Feature including the recent live-action remake of Underdog (the original was one of my favorites growing up, so there was no way I was ever going to like it) and a straight to video release called Snow Buddies, which as I mentioned yesterday, finally provided me with what I thought would be the perfect topic to help me get over my recent bout with writer's block.

For those of you out there who might not know -- Snow Buddies is the latest installment in a franchise of sequels spawned from the initial success of Air Bud, a 1997 movie about a golden retriever who could play basketball, which itself (at least in my mind) was a rehash of that old-school Disney flick Gus, about a football-playing mule that could kick field goals.
All of which should serve as important evidence that when it comes to the art of producing films about talking animals doing things that animals aren't supposed to normally be able to do -- there are few studios
out there who have gotten more mileage out of (or experience in how to create) this idea than Disney.
Now before we get too deep into things here, let me sort qualify all this by saying I've never seen Air Bud. Neither have you, but it's not a problem -- because really, we've all seen this film in one form of another at some point during our lives.

The important thing to know here is that somewhere along the line (after mastering a number of professional contact sports), Buddy the Golden Retriever met a sexy little bitch (see what I did there?) named Molly on MySpace -- told her he was a jet pilot, took her to PF Changs, suggested they go back to his place, put on some Barry White -- and then a few months later became the proud father of five puppies, all of whom just happened to excel in individual sports like he did.

The added bonus here is that all his puppies come complete with their own broadly drawn sterotypical personality: The surfer dude, the football-loving jock, The one that plays in the mud and gets dirty, The fat one who's always hungry, and the tomboy girl who really wants to be a princess.

Then in the oldest of Disney traditions, Buddy the dog is sent to the bench to join Donald Duck, Annette Funicello, and Captain Hook while the studio that gave us Britney Spears turns his younger, cuter progeny who into stars of the kinds movies he worked so hard to make famous, ensuring that series will never, ever end (IMDb lists something called Space Buddies as currently being in production for a 2009 release).
One can only hope that once they reach space they will meet Jason from the equally un-killable Friday
the 13th
franchise, who (last time I checked) was still up there killing half-naked co-eds with his machete.
Anyone who has a child or has looked after someone else's kids in this day and age has probably had to deal with the circle of hell that is kids programming. Whether it's Barney, the Wiggles, Kidz Bop, or any of the rest -- kid-oriented media has never seemed more pervasive or annoying than it is now.

Being a parent, I've noticed that there are two basic schools of thought when it comes to films of this type. First are the movies that kids like that still offer a little something for adults to enjoy (the various Pixar Films come to mind). But what you see the most of -- especially with the recent success of things like Alvin and the Chipmunks or Hannah Montanah, are movies that feel like they were shoved off a factory assembly line, the ones that feel as if they were specifically designed to keep kids quiet and mentally engaged for a certain amount of time without any worry of disturbing or offensive images coming up -- "virtual babysitters," for lack of a better term.
Snow Buddies is clearly one of these.
As a result, it's a waste of time for me to sit here and pick apart the movie for being bad -- especially because it's pretty clear that it was never intended to be anything more than simply good enough.

I mean, you'd pretty mucy have to be a cat in order to resist the cuteness inherent in of a bunch of puppies running around doin' stuff without having at least one "Awwwww" moment. And as expected, my boy jumped in with both feet -- laughing at the jokes, getting mad at the villain, and actually cheering for the happy ending. And it's always a lot of fun sharing things like that with him, because it gives you the chance to see his sense of humor as it's developing.
So on that front at least -- it was mission accomplished.
Of course sitting next to the child was his father; the cynical movie snob, silently dying inside because there was no one else in the room old enough to understand just how utterly awful this over-saccharinated Call of the Wild ripoff truly was, leaving me with no opportunities at all to call it out for the complete piece of shit that it was.
And this was all before the Wigger dog showed up.
So this morning I finally found a free moment to release the kraken on the utter hypocrisy that is the Disney Company (whose track record when it comes to racial issues is already less than spectacular) including of all things a streetwise character spouting off all sorts of supposedly hip-hop/gangsta phrases in a pre-teen voice that might as well have belonged to Honky McWhiterson -- prancing around with his jewel encrusted bling necklace like some sort of puppy-fied Al Jolson, and I decide to check out the movie's Wikipedia page to make sure I got the name of the voice actor right --
When I come across a little blurb detailing the fact that as part of the pre-production process, 30 under-aged golden retriever puppies were obtained and then imported to Vancouver, only to fall victim to an outbreak of a highly contagious parvovirus, which the dogs should have been vaccinated against, but apparently weren't. 15 puppies got sick, and three had to be euthanized. Then, after the enforced removal of the first set of puppies, Disney acquired a new set of 28 older puppies to continue filming with. These puppies ended up being exposed to the same virus, which increased the reported death toll to at least five.
What the hell, Mickey?
So let me get this straight -- your production company is making a movie starring dogs, which just happens to be the sixth in a series of movies about these exact same dogs, all funded by a multi-national corporation that's made a huge hunk of it's vast fortunes from movies about talking dogs -- and you expect me to believe that you somehow forgot to hire a vet?!
Honestly, where did you get these dogs from -- the mall?
I mean don't get me wrong here -- I'm no huge fan of PETA or any other overzealous publicity-hungry animal rights advocacy group out there, but how is this not an utter outrage? How did the production even pretend to continue filming after all of this shit went down?
Moreover, how the hell are you willing to entrust these same
to take yet another truckload of puppies into Space??
But if all this talk of tragedy, exploitation, and death wasn't enough to completely derail the mood I had going when I started putting this rant together -- now I'm stuck having to consider the fact that after so much drama and all the brothers and sisters he lost along the way:
Damn, B-Dawg might just be an OG after all.

[Listening to:  Pressure 4-5"These Hands" ]