January 2002
Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s SNOW DOGS : Disney, Colorized!

Reviewed by Roslyn J. Bradford

Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s SNOW DOGS - Disney, Colorized!

First, Notre Dame hires an African-American as head coach of their football team. Then, The Walt Disney Company releases a live-action film with a black man in the lead role. Will wonders never cease? It would be easy to overlook the January 18 release of SNOW DOGS as just another movie in the illustrious career of Oscar winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Boyz N The Hood, Jerry Maguire, Men of Honor). The film is trailblazing new ground, however, as SNOW DOGS is one of the first racially diverse, non-animated films linked directly to the family-oriented, Disney brand, a seal of approval for parents of young children. True to the typical Disney elements of comedy, animals, and some life-affirming themes thrown in for good measure, SNOW DOGS is a heart-warming film that does a good job of showcasing the talents of not only Cuba Gooding, Jr. but also Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols, and R&B artist Sisqo. That’s right, Sisqo is in a Disney flick, and that should be reason enough for you to check out the movie.

A classic “fish out of water” storyline, Cuba Gooding, Jr. portrays Ted Brooks, a Miami dentist who finds out that he’s been named in a will and must travel to Alaska to claim his inheritance—a mischievous team of sled dogs. A very physically demanding role for the talented actor, it is a pleasure to watch Gooding shift from broad, sometimes slapstick comedy, to a dramatic, thought-provoking vibe within the confines of the same film. Cuba Gooding’s range as an actor is truly on display in this Disney feature film.

Nichelle Nichols’ role as Ted Brooks mother, Amelia Brooks, adds a classy, dignified element to the film, helping to prevent the movie from becoming a one-dimensional farce. For those of us who grew up in the 70’s, Nichelle Nichols will always be Lt. Uhurra, and she has revisited this role in six Star Trek films from 1979-1991. You cannot discuss TV icons without mentioning her name, as she was one of the first black women on TV to portray a working professional: an officer and gentlewoman equal to her colleagues on the deck of the starship Enterprise. Today, Nichelle Nichols is as beautiful and gracious as ever, and her longevity in the entertainment industry over the past 30 years has rightfully earned her Diva status.

As Ted Brooks cousin, Rupert, Sisqo delivers and adequate performance in a small supporting, but visible role. The experts in packaging and marketing movies, Disney is squarely going after the teen market with this casting move, and the studio should be commended for given the blonde musician an opportunity to break from his “thong song” persona to play the straight man for Cuba Gooding, Jr. It will remain to be seen whether Sisqo’s traditional fan base will be able to stomach him in a squeaky-clean Disney flick.

Take your young kids, nieces, and nephews to see this movie. You will be pleasantly surprised by the interesting combination of adult themes such as interracial relationships, the gorgeous winter landscape of Alaska, and beautiful Huskies that are truly the stars of the movie. For more info about SNOW DOGS, check out www.disney.com/snowdogs/.


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