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Scrooge U : Part XXIX -- "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" is mutt ado about nothing

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Scrooge U : Part XXIX -- "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" is mutt ado about nothing

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Well, at least there's some truth-in-advertising to be found in this 1998 home premiere. For -- though "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" may not actually be an adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale -- this holiday special is definitely a dog.

Copyright 1998 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation, Inc.

This time around, it's Carface Malone (voiced by Ernest Borgnine) who's playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Sort of. Last seen being dragged down into Hell at the end of "All Dogs Go to Heaven 2," this evil bulldog has returned to Earth as a minion of Belladonna (Bebe Neuwirth). She's this demon dog who's out to ruin Christmas by using this giant magical dog whistle.

No. That's not a typo. You read that right. A giant magical dog whistle.

You see, Belladonna's plan is to blow this giant magical dog whistle right at midnight on Christmas Eve. And she'll then use this canine mind control device to force all of the dogs in San Francisco to steal all of their masters' presents.

Lucky for those folks in San Francisco, Annabelle (I.E. That angelic whippet from the first "All Dogs Go to Heaven" film) has put Charlie Barker (Steven Weber) & Itchy Itchiford (Dom DeLuise) on the case. She tells Charlie & Itchy that they must stop Belladonna's evil plot by finding the good in Carface's heart. And help make this possible, Annabelle sends a miracle dog tag down from heaven. Which has just enough magic in it to help foil Belladonna & Carface's plan.

Copyright 1998 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation, Inc.

Itchy is very skeptical about Annabelle's order. "Turn Carface into a good guy?," this hound grumbles. "That's gonna be impossible. He's a total Scrooge."

Hearing what his pal just said, Charlie grins from ear to ear and then says: "Itchy baby, that's brilliant! We're going to run a Dickens of a scam on Carface."

And then -- using the magical power of that miracle dog tag -- Itchy & Charlie re-enact the middle portion of "A Christmas Carol." Meaning that (with the help of Charlie's Irish Setter girl-friend, Sasha [Sheena Easton]) these three dogs then play the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present And Future to Carface's Scrooge. With Itchy, Sasha & Charlie trying to show this evil bulldog where he went wrong. More importantly, trying to convince Carface that there's still time to set things right.

Of course, as they visit this villain's past & present, they come across a little lame puppy named Tim. Who needs money for an operation.

And -- when Carface visits the future with Charlie (Who wears this most unusual costume when he's playing the Ghost of Christmas Future. Would you believe a canary yellow zoot suit?) -- he's shown his own grave.

Which you wouldn't think that -- given that Carface has just come back from Hell -- that this would be all that frightening to that particular bulldog. But even so, Carface freaks when he sees his headstone and immediately promises to reform.

Copyright 1998 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation, Inc.

From that point on, "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" departs completely from Dickens' storyline. In that we then find ourselves out on Alcatraz Island, where Belladonna is about to blow her giant magical dog whistle. And only Carface can stop her. But does this now-reformed canine really have what it takes to stop this she-devil & her fire imps?

Well, what do you think? This is -- after all -- a Christmas special.

In the tradition of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," Carface finally finds the strength that he needs in order to turn off the giant dog whistle. Then -- after helping Annabelle defeat Belladonna -- this bulldog puts on a Santa Claus suit. He then crashes a Christmas party that Charlie, Itchy & Sasha are holding for a bunch of orphaned puppies. And -- after saying "Aren't I a little Dickens?" -- Carface hands out Christmas presents to everyone attending the event. Then they all join in singing a Christmas carol as snowflakes (That Annabelle has personally sent down from heaven) tumble out of the sky.

Copyright 1998 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation, Inc.

And -- with that -- "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" finally comes to a close.

Now I know that the above story description makes this holiday special sound very odd. Trust me, folks. I'm making "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" sound a whole lot better than it actually is. By that I mean: I've deliberately left out some of the weirder sub-plots from this holiday special. Like how Killer (Charles Nelson Reilly), Carface's trusted assistant, gets his boss a blow torch for Christmas.

Or -- better yet -- the comic duet that Killer & Belladonna perform together, "I Always Get Emotional at Christmas." Where Carface's assistant sings about how "When fruitcake goes on sale, I'm spending every dime," while the demon dog trills about how she loves Christmas because "It's time to hand out candy canes I've just dipped in slime."

Ewww ...

Don't get me wrong. It's not like "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" is entirely awful. Jymn Magon (Yeah, the same guy who wrote that kid-friendly version of "A Christmas Carol" that I reviewed earlier this week) at least came up with some interesting ways to start off the various visitations by the holiday spirits. For the Ghost of Christmas Past, Jymn had Carface pulled face first into his television set. For the Ghost of Christmas Present, Magon made this evil bullbog get sucked inside his bedside radio. And for the Ghost of Christmas Future, Jymn first had Carface trip & fall into a newspaper. Then he had the bulldog himself inside the funny pages.

Copyright 1998 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation, Inc.

After that ... Well, there are a couple of catchy songs in this holiday special ... And "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" does feature a lot of big names in its vocal cast ... But beyond that ...


Oh, why bother to pretend anymore? "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" is a just-plain-awful holiday special. By that I mean: Small children may enjoy this 1998 home premiere with its sub-standard animation. But adults -- particularly those who picked up this DVD by mistake, thinking that (because of its title) that they were about to see an all-canine version of Dickens' classic holiday tale -- are going to find "All Dogs" mutt ado about nothing.

Trust me. With the first 15 minutes, you're going to hitting the "Paws" button and ...

Okay. Enough with the dog puns. This DVD is bad. Don't watch it. Okay?

Tomorrow ... We wash away all memories of "All Dogs" with Patrick Stewart and his acclaimed TV movie version of "A Christmas Carol."

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  • No arguments from me about this review (for a change). This version is the benchmark in bad ! The only slight doubt I have is your using the word 'acclaimed' to describe the highly disappointing Patrick Stewart TV version....

  • Hitting kinda hard on a title that's obviously kids-oriented and even more obviously a very loose adaptation. I mean, how faithful does one expect "A Christmas Carol" featuring DOGS to be?

  • I've endured this movie twice this holiday.  Toon Disney is playing it on it's 12 Days of Christmas series in the afternoons.  Trust me, it's all kinds of bad.  My 6 year-old and 3 year-old have loved it, but parents would loathe it.  I watched it with them the first time and kept busy when it was on yesterday.  The story is just awful.  It could have been better without all the Belladonna stuff, which the kids didn't get anyway.  Jim didn't mention that at the end Carface says his good acts weren't going to last.  Not a redemption story at all, no lesson for kids to learn.  

  • Yay, the Patrick Stewart version is tomorrow. That is my favorite version of the story. As for this version, anyone care to count how many dog puns were inserted? :)

  • These Bluth-originated direct to DVD franchises are really kind of lacking in original content.  Be thankful that there's not a Land Before Time 17: A Prehistoric Christmas Carol to wade through.  In fact, that there isn't is something of a Christmas miracle.

  • Ah, this is a bad 'un. Thanks to Belladonna, I'll never eat candy canes again. Wasn't the first All Dogs film an adaptation of Great Expectations?

  • I agree this version was a "Dog" but I did like some of the Songs.  I liked the Song "Christmas Future" sings.   Reminded me of "Sit Down your Rocking the Boat"  from Guy's and Dolls.

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