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Christmas Giving Permeates New Disney Blu-ray/DVD Release “The Search for Santa Paws”

SantaPaws_200x262.jpgThe title of Disney’s heartwarming children’s Christmas movie “The Search for Santa Paws” is a bit of a misnomer. There are several threads of “search” stories woven together, however, and this being a Disney creation the viewer can comfortably expect that everyone will get what they want — or deserve — in the end.

The film opens as a musical production, starting with the elves gaily singing through their tasks in Santa’s North Pole workshop and culminating with Santa (Richard Riehle) and his Missus (Patrika Darbo) sharing a loving waltz around his birthday cake. Young children may not notice the plasticity of the smiles at this point, but for those who want more warmth, be patient — expressions and dialog become more natural as the characters evolve.

“Paws” (who is not yet “Santa Paws”) is first introduced as a stuffed-toy dog gifted to Santa from an old friend who has just passed away. A little magic from the “Christmas crystal” in a beautiful ice cave brings him to life (voiced by Mitchel Musso), and a necklace pendant of crystal keeps him — and Santa — immortal when they leave the North Pole for New York City, which is suffering from a dire drop in Christmas spirit.

Santa and Paws are separated after an accident that leaves Santa without his memory. Happenstance connects Santa to the heirs of his old friend — a couple who are two of those sadly in need of Christmas spirit — who have been bequeathed the friend’s toy store if they can run it to a profit through one Christmas season. Amnesiac Santa — who thinks his name is “Bud” because people on the street have called him that — surprises himself and the toy store proprietors with his ability to get along with all the children who visit the store.

A Central Park bum (Chris Coppola) takes advantage of Santa’s accident to steal what look to him to be valuable objects — Santa’s crystal pendant and a travel bag that turns out to have his iconic red suit. Gus makes use of the suit to take over a donation stand, thinking to make personal use of the money. He thinks he’s only searching for a way to make a buck, but he ends up finding something more meaningful.

Intercut with these stories is one that follows a little orphan, Quinn (a charming Kaitlyn  Maher), sent to a foster home run by the thoroughly disagreeable Ms. Stout (Wendi McLendon-Covey), who goes to extremes to keep any spark of joy out of her charges’ lives. An early scene shows her snatching a doll — forbidden contraband her home — from one little girl and throwing it in the incinerator. Quickly over with, the incident serves to set up the drama of a later key situation. Quinn, of course, is looking for more love than Ms. Stout’s home provides.

Paws and Quinn cross paths, and she sneaks the pup into the foster home. Another musical number ensues when Paws throws out some Christmas Crystal magic and transforms the girls’ stark bedroom into a well-furnished one replete with Christmas ornaments and the girls’ dingy dresses into party frocks. Ms. Stout discovers him, snatches his magic crystal, and sends him and one of the luckless girls to the cellar.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Santa has realized something bad must have happened to Santa and Paws, and two of Santa’s helpers arrive in the city to save them. Through them, all the threads come together and tie off as everyone gains in Christmas spirit through actions of giving to others — which is the ultimate treasure found in “The Search for Santa Paws.”

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