A Christmas Tail (U) | Close-Up Film DVD Review

Dir: Gregory Poppen, 2012, US, 84mins

Cast: C. Thomas Howell, Brooke Langton, Tom Arnold, Bryson Sams

Review By James Armstrong

A Christmas Tail is a family comedy about 11-year-old Bobby’s relationship with his dog, Chilly. Set in sunny California a week before Christmas, Bobby’s father, Detective Cole, tells him he has accepted a job working for the FBI in New York. With the prospect of swapping his beach front home for an inner city apartment, Bobby knows his new best friend Chilly will have to find a new home. Desperate not to leave Chilly behind, Bobby and his friends try to acclimatise Chilly to city living, including using the toilet and a treadmill.

Trouble begins to brew in their own backyard when a dog-napper and his crew suddenly show up in Sunshine Beach, hot on Chilly’s tail. It’s at this point that Bobby realises that his plan is being foiled by a gang of high-end dog thieves. It’s up to Detective Cole, Bobby and Chilly to stop the thieves in their tracks and keep their family together for the holiday season.

A Christmas Tail, named Chilly Christmas in the United States, is a fun film to watch. It doesn’t take itself too serious and there is plenty of fun to be had with this family film even though it isn’t the greatest piece of cinema ever released. The film is aimed at children aged around six years old and was written and directed by the screenwriter of The Karate Dog and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, so bear that in mind when watching this with your young child. But overall this is a cute film, even though half the film is set in California, which isn’t the most Christmassy of settings.

Kids will definitely enjoy the humour and the heart in the film. In my opinion, C. Thomas Howell doesn’t exactly give his best performance as Bobby’s dad, but maybe that’s because the script isn’t exactly something an actor can sink his teeth into, and for that reason I can forgive him. As for the three young kids, they give the film its overall appeal and all three give very strong performances. The story, like most of these family-friendly films, is cheesy and very predictable, but the allure of this film is that families can watch it all together and find something to like. It’s all about bringing families together, having fun, and getting – especially the younger children – in the mood for the holiday season. A Christmas Tail does just that!

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