From the producers of "Air Bud" comes this sugary sweet little feature starring Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine") and Makenzie Vega ("Family Man", "Sin City") as Ray and Sal, two orphaned sisters who, early in the film, spy a couple of thieves stopped on the side of the road. When the crooks dump a cute little puppy that happened to be in one of the boxes, the girls save it and sneak it back to their little orphanage in the country.
After having to experience watching many of their friends get adopted, Ray and Sal are finally taken in by a kind couple, Laura and Matt Tomley (Christine Tucci and Justin Lewis), who live in a giant apartment in New York City. The only problem is that their new father is allergic to dogs and the building has strict rules against them.
So, it's no surprise that the girls get into all sorts of hijinks trying to keep their little friend a secret from their new parents (the husband is allergic) and their new maid (the latter thinks the pawprints on the clean floors are a sign of a possible rat.) This becomes the film's main issue: not only does the hiding get a bit repetitive, but when the dog grows to the size of a small horse and the parents still don't realize it's in the house, it makes the parents seem more than a little dense. The crooks who released the dog early in the film also come back, and it's no surprise that the dog saves the day.
"Chestnut"'s humor is a little too slapsticky, the picture has a thin whisp of a plot and it's predictable (oh, and the music is incredibly sappy beyond belief.) However, what really saves the picture are the performances from Breslin and Vega. Both girls genuinely seem like sisters and their performances really seem genuine in the film's several emotional moments. This is material that could be corny, but these two nearly made me shed a tear or two during the ending.
Overall, "Chestnut" isn't particularly memorable, but it's a sweet, wholesome little adventure/comedy with two very good lead performances from Breslin and Vega.
VIDEO: "Chestnut" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame by Weinstein Home Entertainment. According to the box, this is the original aspect ratio of the film. Sharpness and detail were terrific throughout the picture, as the film remained crisp and well-defined at all times. The picture did display some light artifacting at times, but no edge enhancement or print flaws were seen. Colors looked rich and bright, with nice saturation and no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: "Chestnut" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. As one might expect, the film's sound design is limited, with hardly any use of the surrounds. Audio quality was fine, as the music has a nice spread across the front speakers and dialogue remains crisp and natural.
Final Thoughts: "Chestnut" offers a thin (even for a kids' film) plot and remains predictable, but the performances by Breslin and Vega lift this sweet, inoffensive film up quite a bit. The DVD presentation offers no extras, but audio/video quality is fine. Rent it.