Here's the Scoop: January 25, 2012

A new holiday classic
Since we’re barely a month into winter, I think it’s still OK to write about Christmas Past. But not Christmas Presents.

For years, my favorite Christmas TV show was the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” Sure, the book was nice, but nothing could top all the Whos down in Whoville joyfully singing, despite the lack of holiday loot. My guess is they had read the book and knew about the happy ending, so they weren’t too concerned about not getting any gifts. But, I’m a skeptic at heart.

Then came “The Christmas Story.” I was mesmerized by this movie for years. What’s not to like about a story where the star gets his ultimate present — AND gets to beat up the town bully?
Now there’s a new holiday classic to add to my list: “The Search For Santa Paws.” You may have heard of this delightful holiday film. If not, I’ll provide the Wikipedia summary:

“When Santa Claus travels to New York City and gets hit by a cab, loses his memory and gets the crystal that keeps him eternal stolen, it’s up to his new friend, Paws, to save him. Meanwhile, a young orphan named Quinn arrives at a foster home run by a strict woman who forbids anything that children love, including pets. She has a furnace that burns all the toys she confiscates from the girls. In order to save Christmas, Eli and Eddy the uncanny elf dog have to go to NYC to save Santa and Paws.”

Not the usual movie formula
If this sounds like a “happily ever after” Disney film well, it is. Sort of. But, note the references to Santa getting hit by a cab. The writer left out that Santa is scary looking (even before getting struck by the car) and that he escapes dying by a whisker. Then, there’s implied threat that the woman who runs the orphanage is one big freak-out away from tossing more than toys into the incinerator. Ho-ho-ho. Holiday fun.

We happened to be watching this movie because we were guests at the home of relatives and the 10-year-old in the house had tuned in — he ran off frightened long before the final credits rolled. Come to think of it, I’m not sure why anyone would want to have their name in the credits for this movie. It was that bad.

While the movie didn’t have anyone’s undivided attention, it was one of those shows that sucks you in because you can’t really believe what you’re seeing. For days afterward, everyone who had watched the film periodically made comments about what they had viewed. There were no five-star recommendations.

What others are saying
The other day, “Santa Paws” again came up in conversation. I wondered if we had perhaps missed something. Maybe we were being too harsh.

So, I looked up reviews for this movie. It soon became apparent that we weren’t alone. In fact, we were being too kind, it seems. Some examples:

• “I can’t even begin to explain how horrible this movie was. My kids thought they were going to get a funny movie about a puppy. But instead they got scared out of their minds. Halfway through the movie they ASKED to go to bed.”

• “This was, hands-down the most awful, disturbing ‘kids’ movie’ I’ve ever seen. My two-year-old daughter was horrified. Santa almost dies, the puppy nearly gets burned, a preschooler jumps into an incinerator to save a stuffed animal...weird, creepy, awful, disturbing...the four words to describe this horrendous movie. I’m embarrassed for Disney!”

I could go on, but you get the idea. I guess times change and I’m sure there are folks who enjoyed this film. Ironically, I think that making kids watch “Santa Paws” is a far worse punishment than locking them in the basement.
— Brian Sweeney