Other // PG // $14.99 // May 8, 2012
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted June 14, 2012
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In 10 Words or Less
Romantic comedy goes to the dogs

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Movies I can let my daughter enjoy
Likes: Good romantic comedies, dogs
Dislikes: Talking animal movies, kid-focused movies
Hates: Whores, TV movies

The Movie
Try and find Cinnamon in the IMDB, and you'll come up empty. That's because it was better known as My Dog's Christmas Miracle, before someone noticed that the holiday is as big a part of this movie as architecture (thanks to the Beverly Hills setting, which removes any sign of a season.) It was decided that, in order to give the film more of a year-round appeal, they would re-name it for the film's lead Maltese, the adorable white Cinnamon. Now if only they could work the same magic for the rest of the movie and turn it into a film worth watching.

Cinnamon belongs to Madeline (Cynthia Gibb) a divorced English professor who's back on the dating scene. That's created some bad feelings for Cinnamon, who feels that no man is good enough for "her mommy" and fears that if Madeline meets a new man and falls in love that she'll be out of the picture. How do we know that? Well, Cinnamon can talk, at least to us and to other animals, thanks to Disney Channel star (and once fiancee to Miley Cyrus' brother) Brenda Song. She continuously complains and whines, especially when Madeline meets widower Kevin (Greg Evigan) and they quickly fall for each other. However, when Cinnamon meets Kevin's son Jordan and finds she enjoys spending time with him, things start to look a bit better.

Of course, if that's where things ended, it would make for a pretty boring movie (though it's not as if what actually ended up in the movie was much more compelling.) Instead Madeline and Kevin's relationship gets complicated due to some fibs and misunderstandings, including a lost-dog cover-up, while Jordan stands up to the neighborhood bully (with some encouragement from his neighbor Heather (Big Time Rush's Ciara Bravo.)) This sets up an ending you've seen in dozens of other films, frequently done far more impressively. It doesn't help that the film opened with the penultimate scene before flashing back for the rest of the film, since you know where we're going and there are no twists along the way. Combine this with a TV movie look and feel and a great deal of sincerely awkward dialogue (check out the bully's comebacks), and the entire affair is a lot of been there, done better.

Normally, when I see the Dove Foundation's "Family Approved" logo, it's a sign to turn away, as the film is going to be either a saccharine sweet pile of "awww" or a movie with a heavy Christian bent. So it was odd to see this film spotlight the character of Madeline's daughter Chloe (Ashley Leggat), a party girl who, when she's not arguing with her mother and spending money she doesn't seem to have earned in any way, lies about being older to hook up with a guy whose plans for her include her spending all her time naked. Even referencing this is a bit odd for a film with this family-friendly distinction, but it certainly didn't make me want to share the movie with my daughter.

The film arrives on a single DVD, which is in a standard keepcase inside of a slipcover that repeats the cover art. The disc has an animated, anamorphic widescreen menu, with options to watch the film, select scenes, adjust the set-up and check out the extra. Audio options include English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. There are no subtitles, but closed captioning is included.

The Quality
The anamorphic widescreen transfer is decent, but uneven, thanks to any overall darkness to the film (which makes the bright, sunshiny stock footage of California stand out.) The level of fine detail is decent for the most part, showing off skin textures and strands of hair in close-ups. The color is appropriate throughout, tempered by the darkness, and there are no obvious issues with compression artifacts or noise. Overall, a good, but not great presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is notable mainly for the way it enhances the music during the film's many montages, burying any dialogue that may be present. The music is pretty strong throughout, almost cartoonishly obnoxious. The dialogue is pretty clear though, and there's some light off-screen activity in the surrounds. Just don't expect anything dynamic from the mix.

The Extras
The only extra included is the film's trailer, which did nothing to make me want to watch the film.

The Bottom Line
It's pretty certain that people who review movies were not the target audience for Cinnamon, which seems to be made primarily to entertain young viewers who'll get a kick out of hearing a dog whine and watch her run around for 90 minutes. Honestly, the two plots involving humans are simply filler, and serve mainly to bore kids who love fluffy dogs. The DVD looks and sounds fine, but offers nothing in terms of extras, so you're better off looking elsewhere for your talking animal entertainment.

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