Try finding a Christmas movie on television that doesn’t feature dogs. Not that there’s anything wrong with dogs playing actors. In my book, that little Taco Bell dog is right up there with Matt Damon.
Over the past few years, dogs have gone from supporting roles (a furry shoulder to cry on or someone to fetch the holiday slippers), to headlining roles. There are the romance savvy dogs that lead their owners into relationships. There are dogs that appear in a holiday wedding, dogs that reveal the real meaning of Christmas and dogs that talk.
The dogs that talk are witty, articulate and more intelligent than the humans. This is obviously true in that the dogs got the lead roles and the humans have small parts as supporting cast.
These talking dogs are so smart and clever that if they followed the global market we’d pay them for financial advice. Or fund their presidential campaigns.
So far, the only thing I haven’t seen is a dog singing “O Holy Night.” But then, the season isn’t over.
Some of the holiday dog movies are endearing and some are retreads. “The Dog Who Saved Christmas” is “Home Alone” with a mutt taking the place of Macaulay Culkin. If only the dog could figure out how to stand before the mirror and slap on aftershave. “HOOOOWWWWWWL!”
It is only a matter of time before all of the Christmas classics are remade featuring dogs.
In “Miracle on 34th Street,” Kris Kringle’s attorney, played by a Siberian husky, must prove that Santa is not bonkers. Opposing counsel is played by a yappy toy poodle and the judge is played by a graying Irish wolfhound. Kringle emerges from court victorious and is so thankful to his canine representation that he fires all the reindeer and lashes a team of greyhounds to the sleigh.
In a remake of “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the Dogs of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The Dog of Christmas Yet to Come is a small dog-like robot with laser eyes, artificial intelligence language skills and GPS capability. The dog is cold, frightening and impersonal. On the upside, he does not produce any waste disposal problems requiring small plastic bags.
“The Night Before Christmas” takes on some new shades as well: “The pups were nestled by the fire in their beds, While visions of rawhide bones danced in their heads . . . Away to the window I flew like a flash, Ripped down the curtains and drooled on the sash.”
In “White Christmas,” Major General Waverly returns to Vermont after World War II and opens up a kennel. The kennel is going broke.Every dog that has ever boarded there learns of the fate of the kennel via social networking. They return to the kennel for a surprise show featuring Frisbee catch, a barking dog ensemble and stupid pet tricks. The kennel is saved and the show closes with two smooth-talking border collies sauntering away with two perky Welsh corgis.
The only show that could not be remade is “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Snoopy is sublime in his all-knowing, all-seeing, secondary background role. You don’t mess with perfection. Besides, a beagle knows you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.