Film Review: A Christmas Tail

A Christmas Tail is unlikely to go on to become a much-loved Christmas classic. By no means unwatchable, nevertheless the film is rather forgettable.

Bobby gets Chilly, the dog he has always wanted, for Christmas. The following year, his police detective father is offered a job in New York, which mean untrained Chilly cannot move with the family. Desperate to housetrain his dog, things get complicated for Bobby with the arrival of some dog thieves…

An American TV movie that went by the name Chilly Christmas, A Christmas Tail is aimed at a family audience. The youngest viewers may find humour in the dog’s antics, but older audience members will find little to amuse. Although the film is suitable for family viewing, it is unlikely to entertain the whole family.

A Christmas Tail is fairly predictable. With a beach setting, Gregory Poppen attempts to distinguish his film from the plethora of other festive movies with a less than wintery feel. Other than this, the film features a fairly standard adventure plot of a child and his pet attempting to stay together and save the day. The predictability is not the worse thing about A Christmas Tail, and would have been quite forgivable if at least some of the jokes had hit the mark.

The dialogue in the film is atrocious at times, enough to feel sympathy for the actors who have to deliver it. The editing is awful, and fails in its attempts to build any kind of tension in one of the film’s most pivotal scenes. Furthermore, the choice of camera angles is sometimes puzzling, and continuity in the action fails on at least one occasion. Performances from C. Thomas Howell and Bryson Sams are adequate, but Tom Arnold is not great.

Not quite in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category, A Christmas Tail languishes TV movie purgatory. Fine to have on in the background, it is highly unlikely to enthrall viewers.

A Christmas Tail is out on DVD from 5th November 2012.