[Screen It]


(2002) (Cuba Gooding, Jr. James Coburn) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Mild Moderate *Moderate Minor
Moderate Minor Mild None Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
*Mild None Moderate Moderate Mild

Comedy: A Miami dentist tries to learn the truth about his origins when he discovers that he's adopted and has inherited his late mother's team of Alaskan sled dogs.
Ted Brooks (CUBA GOODING, JR.) is a successful Miami dentist who's living the good life. In practice with his cousin, Rupert (SISQO), and doted over by his widowed mother, Amelia (NICHELLE NICHOLS), Ted has it all, yet feels like he's missing something. Then, out of the blue, he learns that he was adopted upon receiving notice that his biological mother has passed away and left him an inheritance.

Accordingly, he sets out for the remote town of Tolketna, Alaska, known as the starting and finishing point for the Arctic Challenge dogsled race. There, he meets George Murphy (M. EMMET WALSH), the executor of his late mother's estate; Barb (JOANNA BACALSO), the local barmaid who takes a shining to this stranger; and locals Peter Yellowbear (GRAHAM GREENE) and Ernie (BRIAN DOYLE-MURRAY), all of whom are a bit cautious around Thunder Jack (JAMES COBURN), a gruff old mountain man.

Hoping to take an inventory of what he's inherited and then get out of the cold and snowy environs for his more familiar beach home, Ted discovers that among the various things his mother left him is a complete sled dog team, led by the alpha male, Demon. Thunder Jack offers to buy them from Ted, but Barb convinces the city slicker that they're worth more than the offer.

Prepared to leave, Ted gets more interesting news when he then learns that Thunder Jack is actually his biological father, although the gruff old man doesn't want to talk about any of that. Determined to learn the secret past of his origins, Ted decides to stick around until he's told the truth. In the meantime, he sets out to learn the sport of dog sledding. Yet, when he discovers that some of the dogs are just as headstrong and unwilling to cooperate as Thunder Jack, Ted does what he can to convince all of them to give him what he wants.

Since the previews make the film look like it contains zany humor and talking dogs (that only do so in one hallucination scene), they just might, as may fans of anyone in the cast.
For mild crude humor.
  • CUBA GOODING, JR. plays a Miami dentist who inherits a team of Alaskan sled dogs after learning he was adopted. He then tries to learn the truth about his origins via his gruff and distant father, while also dealing with the dogs.
  • JAMES COBURN plays the crusty mountain man who wants the dogs for himself and turns out to be Ted's biological father (from what was essentially a one-night stand) who initially doesn't want to talk about their connection.
  • JOANNA BACALSO plays the local barmaid who befriends Ted and tries to assist him (all while falling for him).
  • M. EMMET WALSH plays the local pilot, justice of the peace and executor of a will who brings Ted to the small Alaskan town.
  • SISQO plays Ted's cousin and dentistry partner.
  • NICHELLE NICHOLS plays Ted's mother who's upset that she never told him about being adopted.
  • GRAHAM GREENE and BRIAN DOYLE-MURRAY play two locals in the town.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-rated comedy. The adult protagonist learns that he was adopted (leading to some tense family material), meets his biological father (who's a different race than him), and learns he was conceived during what was essentially a one-night stand.

    Various women are occasionally seen in some revealing attire, some non-explicit, sexually related dialogue is present (but will probably go over many younger kids' heads), and the filmmakers briefly fool the viewer into believing that the protagonist is waking up in bed with a woman, when in reality he's waking up with one of the dogs.

    A few scenes (one involving the initial encounter with barking & growling dogs, another with a large bear, and a third where some characters precariously hang over the edge of a cliff) might be unsettling and/or suspenseful to some viewers, particularly younger ones.

    Various instances of slapstick material are present (falling and slipping, etc.), while a punch and kick are separately thrown, and some imitative behavior/appearances are also present. Meanwhile, a few instances of crude humor occur (rotting teeth, a dog urinating, a skunk graphically spraying someone, etc.), while various characters drink.

    Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for anyone in your home who may want to see it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • Various locals drink beer in the town's bar, where we also see a dog lapping the foam from the top of a beer.
  • George reads from a will that instructs that everyone be poured a shot of Wild Turkey, and we then see various people drink them, including Ted.
  • We see a man who appears to be passed out at the bar.
  • Jack drinks from a flask that he then hands to Ted, telling him it's soup. Ted takes a sip and then spits it out, complaining that Jack said it was soup. Jack then laughingly replies that there's some soup in it.
  • A French sled dog competitor has champagne or wine in his tent with dinner.
  • Jack drinks from his flask.
  • As Ted's dentist father has the young Ted examine a dental patient, we see an extreme close-up of the inside of a woman's somewhat gross looking mouth. Ted then goes over to a trashcan to vomit (we see its point of view), but the scene cuts away before we see anything else.
  • We see Ernie's teeth that look all rotten and partially decayed (and Ted reacts to the smell coming from his mouth).
  • Barb feeds the dogs some sort of gross looking slop that we hear is made from animal lips and organs, etc.
  • We see Demon raise his leg and urinate on a tree.
  • A skunk sprays Ted in the face (and we see his point of view of the spray hitting the camera lens).
  • We see a bad tooth in Demon's mouth that Ted then pulls out with some pliers.
  • Jack initially has somewhat of one toward Ted, not telling him the truth, acting gruff and seemingly only being interested in buying his sled dogs (at a much lower price than they're worth).
  • The following may or may not be suspenseful to some kids, depending on their age, level of maturity and tolerance/previous exposure to such material.
  • The scene where Ted unexpectedly encounters the large, growling, barking and occasionally menacing-looking sled dogs in his mother's cabin for the first time may be unsettling, suspenseful or scary to some kids, particularly if they're wary or afraid of dogs (and that's especially true when the dogs chase and somewhat attack Ted - pulling at his clothes, etc. - although such scenes are accompanied by lighthearted music).
  • Ted suddenly encounters a large bear that makes threatening sounds and then chases after him (mostly played with light and adventurous rather than suspenseful music). He then jumps over the edge of a cliff and lands on a tiny outpost of snow and rock on the side of the cliff. That then breaks away and sends him falling to the ground below (but he's not hurt). He then slides headfirst down the hill on his back and just barely misses hitting many trees. He then eventually ends up on a frozen lake that cracks and starts to divide as he tries to get off it, but then finds himself slowing sinking into the freezing water (played more for adventure and comedy rather than suspense).
  • Some kids might find news that Jack is missing in the middle of a snowstorm as a bit unsettling.
  • We see a bad tooth in Demon's mouth that Ted then pulls out with some pliers.
  • As Ted, Jack and their sled team travel along a narrow and snowy/icy path high above a ravine, some of the dogs start to slip and slide over the edge, eventually causing the sled and the two men to fall off the side (as some suspenseful music plays). Ted then dangles by one arm from the sled (that Jack's still inside) above the precipice, as the dogs struggle to pull them back up (which they eventually do and everyone is okay).
  • We hear George fire a rifle in the middle of the bar to get everyone's attention, while we see a rifle on a rack along the back window in Jack's truck.
  • Phrases: "Shut up," "You cheap chiseler," "Why don't you pack up your big city butt and go back there?" "You've got something wrong with/in your head" (said many times during an argument), "You silly greenhorn" and "Old fool."
  • Tired of the neighbor's small dog constantly barking, Ted douses it with water to make it be quiet.
  • We occasionally see some young locals in the Alaskan town who have many facial piercings, with one having bright reddish/orangey hair and the other having blonde spikes.
  • Some locals throw dinner knives, rather than darts, into a dartboard. Barb then throws one that nearly hits Ernie (as a warning of sorts for them to shape up).
  • A miscellaneous man has many tattoos on his arms.
  • With what looks like straw padded in the back of his pants, Ted tauntingly shakes his rear end at Demon, causing the dog to rush up and bite him there. We then see Ted spinning around with the dog attached to the seat of his pants.
  • As Ted looks through a window, one of the dogs suddenly appears in it.
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music plays in a few scenes.
  • None.
  • There's 1 use of "My Lord" as an exclamation.
  • Some parents/viewers may find the following as more than "mild" to them, but there's no actual onscreen sex, nudity or explicit dialogue.
  • We see some brief shots of some shapely women in revealing attire in Miami (that show some cleavage), and later see women at the beach in bikinis (some of them rather small on the shapely women).
  • Rupert gives Ted some sort of neck heating contraption for the cold winter nights, and then mentions something about him "getting a little nan-nookie."
  • Barb learns that the deceased left her a coat, with George reading from the will that it kept her warmer than any man ever did, and then adds that you don't have to talk to it in the morning.
  • When Barb pulls up on a snowmobile with Ted behind her, he can't remove his frozen arms from around her. He states that he's not being frisky and she replies that's what all of the guys say.
  • The filmmakers set up a moment to make the audience think that Ted and Barb slept together (after we saw them outdoors at night) as he wakes up, smiles and then asks, "How did you sleep?" As the camera pulls out, however, we see that he's talking to one of the dogs that's also sleeping in the bed with him.
  • In a fever-induced dream, Ted imagines seeing Barb walk up on the beach wearing a somewhat revealing bikini (that shows cleavage and her shapely body).
  • Jack tells Ted that he and his mother essentially had a one-night stand (not said in those words - instead he says "Cold weather brings people together in a strange way" and then states that Ted can guess the rest) when they both ended up stuck in a cave during a sled dog race. He then adds that when he woke up the next morning, Lucy and her dogs were already gone.
  • Barb briefly, but passionately kisses Ted.
  • Demon (a dog) suggestively raises his eyebrows toward a female dog that flirtatiously bats her eyelashes back at him (we then later see that they have puppies together).
  • Ted and Barb make out while standing.
  • After a couple is married, we see a scene several months later where the wife is pregnant (thus suggesting off-screen, marital sex).
  • None.
  • Ted learns that he was adopted when he gets news that his biological mother has died. His adoptive mother is then upset that he's been contacted and that she never told him the truth. Ted then eventually meets his biological father (we hear that his adoptive one is dead), who initially wants nothing to do with him (beyond buying his inherited sled dogs).
  • Adoption and learning later in life that one was adopted.
  • Dog sled racing.
  • We learn that Ted was conceived during a one-night stand and that the mother decided to have the baby, but give it up for adoption.
  • Inheritance and how that works.
  • Children born of interracial pairings.
  • Some slapstick style material includes Ted being "attacked" by the various dogs and landing hard on the floor; falling backwards over an outdoor railing; falling frozen from a snowmobile; slipping on ice and landing quite hard on it; Demon knocks Ted down and then chases him up a tree (and the branch he's standing on then breaks, sending him crashing through the tree and then onto the ground); Ted trips over the dog line and falls to the ground; Ted is thrown back and to the ground when the sled dogs suddenly take off; Ted is dragged behind the sled that's turned over as the dogs pull it (with his hand taped to it); Ted is dragged along behind the sled once again; Ted jumps over the edge of a cliff and lands on a tiny outpost of snow and rock on the side of the cliff that then breaks away and sends him falling to the ground below (but he's not hurt) where he then slides headfirst down the hill and just barely misses hitting many trees; and some men go to pour Gatorade (or water) from a huge bucket onto a winner's head, but the liquid has frozen into a huge block of ice that hits the winner on the head, knocking him unconscious.
  • George causes some property damage when he fires a rifle into the ceiling at the local bar to get everyone's attention.
  • After Ted mockingly calls him "daddio," Jack punches him in the face, knocking him out.
  • The various dogs tear up and shred Ted's clothes from his suitcase.
  • Barb throws a bar patron out into the street and then delivers a kick to him when he tries to come back in.
  • With what looks like straw padded in the back of his pants, Ted tauntingly shakes his rear end at Demon, causing the dog to rush up and bite him there. We then see Ted spinning around with the dog attached to the seat of his pants.
  • A skunk sprays Ted in the face (and we see his point of view of the spray hitting the camera lens).
  • Ted's mom accidentally drops a picture, causing its glass and frame to break.
  • Ted bites Demon on his ear to show the dog that he's the leader.

  • Reviewed January 15, 2002 / Posted January 18, 2002

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