Six years ago, owning a dog in Doverville was against the law. But that all changed when a determined young girl came to the small town and put on an elaborate Christmas show (as seen in the 2005 movie The 12 Dogs of Christmas). Full of fun songs, and with a name inspired by a popular Christmas poem, Emma O’Connor (Danielle Chuchran) succeeded in teaching some old dogs new tricks and touched the hearts of the whole community.
Now, a teenage Emma is returning to Doverville, but for a more sombre reason. This time, she has arrived to attend the funeral of her close friend and mentor Mrs. Stevens. To make matters worse, Mrs. Stevens’ son Mikey (Skyler Holman) has inherited his mother’s dog orphanage and the large mortgage that goes with the run down farm that houses fifty homeless canines. After surviving a devastating car accident, the young man is helpless to pay off the debt. Determined to save his mother’s dream, even if it means putting his own college plans on the line, Mikey enlists Emma’s help in raising funds to rescue the struggling shelter.
But things only get more complicated when she realizes a local businessman, Finneas James (Sean Patrick Flanery) means to buy the farm and replace it with a dog racing track. Used to being the top dog in town, this villain will stop at nothing in achieving his goal. Mr. James does his best to hinder Emma’s money raising ventures by using less than legal means, and employing a host of nefarious townsfolk.
In search of inspiration, Emma looks up some old acquaintances from her visit to Doverville six years before. These include a supportive network of high school girls who convince Emma to re-stage the fantastic Christmas production of her childhood. And so, Emma begins a new and improved version of The 12 Dogs of Christmas, designing a musical show that casts both the students and the fluffy canines from the Stevens’ orphanage.
Getting the show off the ground will take a lot of community support so Emma turns to an eccentric actress turned fortune teller named Zoe (Heather Beers) who proves herself a valuable ally. She also wins over the boys’ basketball team, and leaves a lasting impression on a particularly flirtatious star player named Walker (James Gaisford).
The movie depicts Emma’s interaction with these different characters in a very positive way, and offers good examples of cooperation and friendship. Even more impressive is Emma’s mature response to the growing attention of both Mikey and Walker, which shows consideration and sense; things sadly missing from the puppy love depicted in most films for young audiences. Although the teenage concerns of the protagonists and some frightening material, including a car accident and a burning building, make this film better suited to older children, The 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue is still a warm and fuzzy friend for the holidays.
Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...
Violence: A car accident is depicted, which includes an explosion and results in sever injury (no blood is shown). Dogs are trapped, but later rescued, from a burning building. A character’s death is discussed, and rabies is suggested as a factor. Characters talk about euthanizing animals. A character is locked in a small room. Adult characters are manipulated by other townsfolk.
Sexual Content: Brief kissing and mild flirtation is depicted between teens. Some female cheerleaders wear short skirts and dancer in the Christmas production.
Language: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Medical equipment and syringes are shown. Use of performance enhancing drugs on racing dogs is implied.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
Mr. James’s desire to replace the Stevens’ farm with a race track is never explained. Is his goal logical? Why did the filmmakers choose an illegal race track as their villain’s motivation?
Emma’s Christmas show requires the cooperation of many different people. When you’re at school or at home, who are people that you interact with? How is working together beneficial?
When Walker is not on time for the Christmas play, Emma draws conclusions about him that she later finds were unfounded. Have you ever misjudged someone? How can you avoid doing this in the future?
Home Video Notes
Home Video Notes: 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue
Release Date: 9 October 2012
12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue release to home video with the following bonus extras:
- What’s Your Favourite Dog?
- Behind the Scenes of 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue
- Working with Academy Award® Winning Writer/Director Kieth Merrill
- The Basketball Game Sequence
- Behind the scenes at the 12 Dogs of Christmas Finale