Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws (2009) 
Blu-ray Comedy
Written by Noah Fleming   
Tuesday, 24 November 2009

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“Santa Buddies” is the latest in Disney’s line of Buddies movies.  It all began with “Air Bud,” a golden retriever with special abilities.  Disney spun the film into a franchise, creating four spin-offs.  “Air Buddies,” “Snow Buddies” and “Space Buddies” are the first three sequels.  The latest sequel is “Santa Buddies.”  Despite the sinking franchise, Disney keeps turning out these silly films.  Perhaps kids are attracted to them, but the films hold no substance.

“Santa Buddies” is an attempt at bringing Christmas spirit to the home.  Unfortunately, the film fails to be deep in any aspect.  The only thing that this film has going for it is some cute puppies running around (when not digitally manipulated).

Basically, Santa has a partner, Santa Paws, who looks after all the good and bad puppies in the world.  Santa Paws’ son is Puppy Paws, and he doesn’t believe in Christmas spirit.  All he wants to do is be a normal puppy.  He finds his way to Fernville where he is looking for the Buddies.  The Buddies are a family of golden retriever puppies that each live with a different family.  During the day they meet up at a special place.  When Puppy Paws shows up the Buddies each take turns trying to teach Puppy how to be a normal puppy.  Unfortunately, things go awry and each time Puppy gets a Buddy into trouble with their owners.

The villain of the story is a dogcatcher, played by Christopher Lloyd.  He is the scrooge of Christmas.  It is only a matter of time before Puppy is captured and taken to the pound.  Meanwhile, Puppy’s absence from the North Pole is causing the magical crystal to melt at an alarming rate.  This crystal is sustained by human Christmas spirit.  It is up to Puppy Paws to restore this crystal before Christmas disappears forever.

The video transfer is technically proficient but fails to overly impress.  The cheesy CG effects don’t hold up well in high definition.  They appear two-dimensional.  When the puppies’ mouths move it looks like they are floating jaws.  That being said, primary colors are bold and vibrant.  They leap from the screen and will certainly attract children.  Black levels unfortunately don’t fully resolve.  Contrast remains stable and fleshtones are fairly natural.  The image does suffer from some banding and artifacting.  Edge enhancement has always been applied in several instances.  This is not a typical, beautiful Disney video transfer, but children will enjoy it.

“Santa Buddies” comes complete with a typical direct-to-video soundtrack.  The DTS-HD Master Audio track is well suited to the movie, but fails to be fully immersive.  Most disappointing is the lack of acoustics during dialogue spoken in the cave.  I fully expected the reverberation to be enveloping, but it was barely noticeable.  Discreet effects are used sparingly.  The dynamics range of the audio track is flat and consistent.  Frequencies are a bit crispy in the upper range.  The LFE channel is noticeable during two or three sequences.  This is a perfect example of a track that is technically proficient and limited by the original sound design.

The Blu-ray package comes with two discs.  There is a Blu-ray version of the film as well as a standard DVD copy of the film.  Both discs contain the same bonus materials.  There is a fairly lame sing-along track, though there really isn’t much Disney music to this film.  The other special feature is a music video of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”

“Santa Buddies” is purely a children’s film, and even that is a stretch.  Sorry folks, wish I could have given you better news.

Studio Walt Disney Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating G
Starring Christopher Lloyd, Richard Kind, Josh Flitter, Craig Anton, Andrew Astor, Charisse Baker, Danny Woodburn, George Wendt, Liliana Mumy, Tom Bosley, Tim Conway
Director Robert Vince
Film Release Year 2009
Release Year 2009
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature) • 1080p (supplements)
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Running Time 1 hr. 28 mins.
Sound Formats English DTS-HD Master 5.1 • French Dolby Digital 5.1 • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English SDH • French • Spanish
Special Features Sing-Along Track; “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” Music Video; Standard DVD Copy
Forum Link
Reviewer Noah Fleming

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