Actors: Dean Cain, Kristy Swanson, Haylie Duff
Director: Jason Dallas
Writer: Jake Helgren
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014
Run Time: 91 minutes
This is a little bit strange, but as I prepared to review this typically overly-saccharine holiday film involving a dog I couldn’t help but notice that star Dean Cain has a longstanding relationship with both holiday and canine-themed family films. Along with this film, Cain has many other holiday films on his resume, including A Christmas Wedding (2006), A Nanny for Christmas (2010), The Case for Christmas (2011), Merry ExMas (2014), Small Town Santa (2014), Defending Santa (2014).
The dog film is just as popular in his filmography, including a long-running franchise involving a dog that saves every holiday, including Christmas three times over. These include The Dog Who Saved Christmas (2009), The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation (2010), The Dog Who Saved the Holidays (2012), The Dog Who Saved Halloween (2011), The Dog Who Saved Easter (2014), and The Three Dogateers (2014), among others. And that isn’t the end. In 2015 he is slated to be in two holiday-themed films (Beverly Hills Christmas and My Last Christmas), not to mention another production in the works with the vaguely familiar title of A Dog for Christmas.
The reason I mention all of these sappy straight-to-DVD family films is because of how easily A Belle for Christmas slips into the routine already established. There are no surprises in this film, from the expected over-acting to the obligatory forced sentimentality and predictable happy ending. Not even a cute dog can save this film from the acting done by Kristy Swanson and Haylie Duff. Even the child actors and the dog come out looking better than some of the adult cast, but this is just further evidence as to who the target audience truly is.
This time around (and several times before), Cain plays a single father during the holidays. Glenn Barrows is a recent widower with two young children, Elliot (Jet Jurgensmeyer) and Phoebe (Meyrick Murphy). These kids miss their mother even more when their father begins dating a superficial new girlfriend (Swanson). This sadness is filled slightly with the adoption of a new pet, though an allergy immediately makes an enemy out of the new dog-hating girlfriend. Fortunately, the woman that the children adopted Belle from (played by Duff) also happens to be a kind alternative for romantic replacement.
The story is predictable, sappy and cartoonish in its attempts at humor, making A Belle for Christmas entertainment suited only for younger audiences. I suppose there needs to be something to fill the holiday air-time for those stations who couldn’t afford to buy the rights to any of the classic holiday films, as this feels like nothing more than filler entertainment. The DVD is understandably sparse in terms of extras.
Entertainment Value: 2/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 1/10
Historical Significance: 3/10
Special Features: 0/10
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