Cute dogs, Indian spiritualism, selflessness--what's not to love about the new low-budget DVD release "Adventures of Bailey: Christmas Hero." Yes, this family friendly endeavor has a positive message and that's commendable. That does not, however, automatically make it a necessary DVD purchase. Anytime you say something critical about a feature made for children, people go out of their way to condemn your opinion. "Lighten up, it's cute enough for kids." I patently refuse to give in to this ideology, though, because I want quality entertainment choices for my kids! I want to recognize the great efforts of those toiling to make smart, challenging, and truly memorable work for the younger generation and not just rubber stamp anything with the highest rating possible. That said, "Bailey" is pleasant enough and the youngest kids will probably enjoy it. But trust me, it would have made a much better story with a shorter running time! At almost ninety minutes, this slight tales gets incredibly repetitive. And there's only so many minutes of frolicking doggies that can compensate for this extended time.
"Bailey" is a family drama filled with amateur actors doing their best to connect with the material. After causing a ruckus at a local Christmas event, Bailey (a mischievous pooch) is cursed to go without presents for the holiday season. When the family visits Grandpa's farm, Bailey and his brother Duke head off to find an elusive Indian figure (aka Santa) to restore the gift receiving privilege. Of course, this journey is fraught with peril. The two dogs get lost in lush, newly mown fields as well as in a quaint little village and might never make it home! Along the way, they discover that there are more important things than presents on Christmas Day. Meanwhile, our human protagonists are learning much the same lesson. Can Bailey and Duke make it home for Christmas? And will everyone be a little wiser and more thankful this year? No spoilers from me!
Due to its inexpensive budget, "Bailey" is one of those films that employs the talking animal format without any special effects. The camera just closes in on the dog's face as some actor (using a funny voice) narrates the line. I think that's a perfectly viable option, under the circumstances, but it does make the movie feel very stagnant. Its images don't really bring the action to the screen. In one scene, an actor actually makes a yawning noise for a dog but the dog is just sitting there panting. I mean, really, dogs yawn all the time. They couldn't find one scene to match the actor? That wouldn't require special effects, just common sense! Still, the dogs are cute. The movie is simply too long and I think the little ones will start to lose interest before the big finale. It lacks some of the energy of the hyper films that seemed designed to address the ADD generation, and in that way, it does stand out. About 2 1/2 stars. Nice, but not even close to being a Christmas essential. KGHarris, 10/12.