Up on the Wooftop provides charming Christmas tale

What’s not to love about dozens of talking dogs, a cute Iowan family, and a traditional family Christmas movie?

Up on the Wooftop follows a small dog named Toby, who aspires to lead Santa’s sleigh. He falls into an Iowa City home, as he tries to get back to Santa and lead his sleigh on Christmas Eve.

I found Up on the Wooftop to be surprisingly charming, in its own, local way. That could have been seeing a chihuahua talking with an animated jaw, one of the movie’s kid’s-show gags. (“‘What’s a recession?’ ‘I think it’s one of those stands where you get hot dogs.’”) or references to Paranormal Activity, Game of Thrones, Cross-fit and Bruce Lee.

The number one thing about watching Up on the Wooftop was recognizing where the shots were taken. One of them was a vivid view of the Iowa River by City Park (24:23), another was  downtown, and yet another zoomed in on the Old Capitol building(30:00). The Andersons’ house looked to be in one of the suburbs by Borlaug (25:05), but I could be wrong.

The feeling that I could walk over to house 925 right now or remember what it is like made the setting authentic.

One thing that stood out about Up on the Wooftop was the music. It kept the movie going, and fit the mood pretty well. The music when Santa was taking off was reminded me of Disney, and the clanky, off-key “Auld Lang Syne” around the 48th minute mark matched the mess that Toby made at that moment.

The number one thing about watching Up on the Wooftop was recognizing where the shots were taken. ”

All of the film’s actors were convincing, but the best characters were the mall Santa’s employee’s, Dewey and Stan (Mike Schminke and Ben Kass). Rick, the father of the Anderson family, developed the most throughout the movie, and was fun to watch as well.

While the film did not have the budget of many Hollywood blockbusters (Up on the Wooftop took up $80,000), overall, it didn’t seem unprofessional at all.

However, there were times when you sort of realized the dogs in the movie couldn’t talk. Toby sometimes sniffs the air, distracted, while he’s in a conversation with someone. At some moments, the dogs seem a little too happy for the scene. However, it’s easy to forget those moments as the plot moves on.

Also, Santa’s home in the North pole seems a little not-in-the-north-pole. I’m blaming it on the trees.

Then again, I’m not exactly the target audience for a family movie pointed at children.

I bought the DVD for ten dollars on Amazon. It’s not a bad gift, and it’s definitely worth seeing Iowa City from the perspectives of dog-thieves, a little girl and her brother, Santa’s elves, and a talking dog.

For an interview with Director Joe Clarke, an Iowa City local and former West High substitute teacher, go to wsspaper.com/19379/ae/iowa-city-local-debuts-holiday-film/