Film / Snow Dogs

Snow Dogs a 2002 Disney comedy about Ted Brooks, DDS (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a Miami dentist who discovers that he was adopted when he receives a letter informing him of the reading of his recently deceased mother's will, in Tolketna, Alaska. Once there, he discovers that he has inherited his mother's sled dogs, chief among them a temperamental husky named Demon, and is falling for Barb (Joanna Bacalso), the local bartender who was also a close friend of his biological mother. Ted must learn the trade or lose his pack to a crusty mountain man James "Thunder Jack" Johnson (James Coburn).

Though marketed as a wacky talking-animal comedy, it's actually more of a story about exploring your roots, with some Fish out of Water comedy at the beginning.

The story was inspired by the novel Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod, by Gary Paulsen.

This film provides examples of:

  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: At the start of the film, Amelia gives Ted's patients sugar cookies.
    Ted: Mom, I love that you're involved in my practice...but you can't be givin' out sugar cookies in a dental office!
    Amelia: Your father always believed in the personal touch. And repeat business.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Demon and the other sled dogs have this at times, like when Demon gives the others facial cues to have Ted thrown off the sled.
  • Babies Ever After: At the end of the movie, Barb (now Ted's wife) is expecting a baby, while Demon and Nana the Border Collie already have a litter of their own.
  • Bears are Bad News: Ted's getting caught in a snowstorm and suffering hypothermia as a result is because he was chased off a cliff by a bear.
    Ted: (while running for his life) I can see the headlines now: "Miami Dentist Eaten By Bear!"
  • Bedmate Reveal: After an intimate night in the woods with Barb, we cut to Ted in bed the next morning. He asks "So, how did you sleep?", and we pan over to see him sharing the bed with Nana the Border Collie.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Ted's birth mother had this with Thunder Jack, to the point where she left him the contents of her outhouse in her will, as part of a malicious final jab at him. Later on, Thunder Jack confesses to Ted that he truly loved her.
  • Beware of Vicious Dog: Demon. Until his sore tooth is removed.
  • Brick Joke: At least once in the movie, someone tells Ted that he should bite Demon in the ear to command his respect. Near the end, he finally does so—and Jack is surprised that he would be dumb enough to actually do so, revealing that Ted was just being trolled.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Ted after waking up of having a nightmare of him born in an Igloo.
    Ted: I'm an ESKIMO?!
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Thunder Jack didn't know that Ted's mother was pregnant, and neither of them was ready to be a parent.
  • Fish out of Water: Ted (and how!)
  • Foreshadowing: Demon is shown rummaging through Ted's stuff and comes across his toothpaste. Demon steps on the tube and squirts some of the contents on the floor, then licks them off. later it turns out he's vicious because he has a sore tooth, which Ted soon removes
  • Gargle Blaster: "Soup".
  • Global Ignorance: Amelia apologies to an Alaskan cab driver for only having "American money." Truth in Television, though it's become less common in the Internet age.
  • Happily Adopted: Ted. He doesn't know he's adopted until he learns of his biological mother's death, but learning about this new family doesn't diminish his affection for his adopted mother.
  • Jerk Ass: The arrogant French sledder: The favourite to win the Arctic Challenge gets himself some food at the checkpoint before feeding his own dogs (for which the judges penalize him). Then he meets his karma by having a block of frozen Gator-aid dropped on his head, knocking him unconscious.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Thunder Jack.
  • Law of Inverse Paternity: When Ted first arrives in Tolketna to find his birth father, he develops mutal hate at first sight with Thunder Jack, who later turns out to be the father in question.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Doctor, Is this gonna hurt?" "Oh just a little. More than a tickle, but less than paying your taxes."
  • The Men First: A sled dog variation during the race:
    Jack: What kind of a man eats before he feeds his dogs?
  • Misplaced Wildlife: There are no skunks in Alaska.
  • Mixed Race: Ted's mother was black, but his father, Thunder Jack, is white.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer heavily implies that it is a straight-up comedy starring talking dogs. In truth, they only speak in one scene and the entire scene is merely a dream.
  • Not So Above It All/Idiot Ball: Thunder Jack is portrayed as a hardened, experienced sledder, and tells off Ted for being a greenhorn. Jack, in an attempt get ahead, stupidly rides into a storm. Suddenly, it's Ted who has to save his ass from trouble.
  • Rampage from a Nail: Near the end of the film, Ted learns that the reason Demon is so vicious is due to a bad tooth.
  • Snow Means Love: Ted and Barb's first kiss (And Demon and Nana's first show of affection towards each other) happens during a light snowfall.
  • Special Effects Failure: Played for Laughs during Ted's nightmare where the wailing baby clearly has Cuba Gooding Jr's face on it.
  • Truth in Television: The film is actually a surprisingly realistic look at life in a small, remote Alaskan town.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: At the beginning of the film, young Ted vomits when he sees a patient's mouth, and it immediately cuts to an older Ted having fun in his swimming pool.
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: How Ted, like his father, assures patients who ask if it'll hurt.
    Ted: A little. More than a tickle, but less than paying your taxes.