Monday, December 2, 2013

Year Two. Day Two: "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" (1998)

This sequel to the moderately well remembered 1989 movie "All Dogs go to Heaven" is a made for TV canine retelling of the tale, with each of the roles being filled by one of the original film's characters.

This adaptation begins in heaven, with a bunch of puppies (whose no doubt tragically young deaths are never explained) who are sitting down to be read a story - the perennial seasonal classic which provides the inspiration for this film.

From thereon in, it is clear that this is not a standard retelling of A Christmas Carol, and not simply because it is told through animated dogs, but because it features a witch, spell casting, mass hypnosis, a climactic finale aboard rooftops in a thunderstorm and any number of strange and confusing sub-plots.

It follows a greedy pit bull, Carface, who is gleefully collecting upon his debts on a Christmas Eve in San Francisco. That night he is visited by a series of dogs, the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future, who attempt to appeal to the dog's generosity and to save Timmy, a sickly puppy whose family can no longer afford to look after him.

This is not a good adaptation at all. Aside from featuring some of the most mirthless and unmemorable musical interludes and a story so convoluted as to be almost impenetrable, this version's greatest crime is to inject a rather ugly kick of evangelism towards the end - tedious enough in most stories, but unforgivable in an adaptation of a completely secular fable which is not about generosity for the sake of avoiding hell, but for the sake of it being the right thing to do.

In fact, the only time this movie demonstrates any sense of conviction, is when it is telling its young audience of the realities of hell and reminding them that they shall go there too if they do not learn the same message that Scrooge, or in this case, Carface does. This kind of emotional hostage taking is inexcusable in any adaptation of a book which demonstrates such a sense of generosity of spirit towards all people.

This tedious, preachy and visually grimy adaptation of the great book is in many ways, the worst I have ever seen. Mean in spirit and devoid of any sense of magic, this lifeless version serves only the purpose of indoctrinating young
minds, and making a few grubby bucks on the side.

As joyful as a dead dog in the snow.

"An All Dogs Christmas Carol" (1998) 1/5

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