Special Features: Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Michael Feifer, Executive Producers Jeffrey Schenck and Barry Barnholtz, Co-Producer Peter Sullivan, Composer Andres Boulton and Actors Gary Valentine and Elisa Donovan; Dog Tracks: In the Booth with Mario Lopez; Trailer; and Sneak Peeks
A retired K-9 police dog makes a great watchdog and could never end up homeless, right? That's probably true in most cases, but not for a golden lab named Zeus (voiced by Mario Lopez) who messed up a job and doesn't seem able to bark. When the homeless Zeus turns himself in to the pound for a good meal and the chance of finding a family, the other dogs in the pound scoff at his optimism. Not too far away, a recent burglary on the Bannisters' street has the family considering getting either a dog or a security system after the holidays. Dad George (Gary Valentine) and kids Kara (Sierra McCormick) and Ben (Charlie Stewart) are heavily in favor of the dog option, but mom Belinda (Elisa Donovan) thinks a security system might entail less mess and care. Being an impulsive guy who rarely listens to the opinions of his wife or anyone else, George heads to the pound and quickly decides that the ex-K9 Zeus, who looks just like his childhood dog, is the perfect answer to his family's needs. Belinda is skeptical but bonds well with Zeus until she realizes that he never barks. After the dog fails to challenge a friend posing as a burglar, it looks like Zeus will be headed back to the pound following Christmas. The family treks off to spend Christmas Eve with Grandma (Mindy Sterling), and two burglars (Joey Diaz and Dean Cain) show up to rip off the Bannisters' home. Determined not to fail his new family, Zeus puts his mind to work and sets out to deter the thieves in unconventional ways, such as dropping Christmas ornaments off the roof onto their heads and showering them with flour--think Home Alone with a dog at the helm rather than a kid. After a too-long series of silly pranks and unconvincing slapstick comedy by Diaz and Cain, it seems that Zeus will have to overcome his fears and live up to his potential as a watchdog or spend the rest of his life alone. Will the pronouncement by the neighboring cat lady (Adrienne Barbeau) that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" prove prophetic, or can Zeus overcome his fears and become the dog he was meant to be? What could have been a cute new twist on the old "kid left home alone outsmarts a pair of bungling burglars" premise falls flat, thanks to mediocre writing and marginal acting. Kids ages 5 to 8 will probably like this movie because it's a cute, silly story about a clever dog, but older children and adults will find it dull and downright tiresome.