Ever since Barney Bush made his first Christmas movie, it has become an annual tradition to be enjoyed by an ever
dwindling selective audience. In fact, the only people who are still interested in the "Barney" Christmas movies are probably the Bush family themselves.
This year’s Barney movie, with the subtitle "Holiday In The National Parks", does nothing more than make this reviewer convinced that it is time to retire the franchise.
Don’t get me wrong: it is exciting to see such a celebrity-packed movie. And the surprises never end. Look! It’s Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne! Wow!
And who can forget the dynamic performace of the Director of the National Park Service, Mary Bomar.
Even Tony Blair makes an appearance, noting that he, like Barney himself, is a "Scot". It’s funny because it’s true!
And country music star Alan Jackson makes an appearance as well, probably because he was in the White House on the day they happened to shoot the video.
And of course, President Bush, Laura Bush, and even the Bush twins appear in the film, although not in the same scene or room. (Apparently, they don’t get along with each other).
But as exciting as it is to see people like the Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, the film gets bogged down in its rather tiresome theme — the same theme that runs through in all the previous Barney films. The audience is tortured with seemingless endless shots of Barney and Miss Beazely running through the White House, pushing a Christmas ornament (how many times have we seen that before). And endless montages of White House decorations being put up. Scenes like that can’t possibly hold a candle to the sheer excitement and thrill that one sees when the Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, graces the screen.
The plot is loosely based on a White-House-dog-makes-good theme. In the opening scene, President Bush explains to Barney that the White House is designated a national park. At that point, Barney, for reasons not entirely explained or explored, desires to become an honorary Junior Park Ranger.
But Barney’s dreams are not easily attainable. From his meetings with the frightfully exciting Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, as well as the equally enthralling Director of the National Park Service, Mary Bomar, we learn that in order to become a Junior Park Ranger, you must "come up with a big idea to help shine the spotlight on the parks".
Discouraged by this news, Barney runs to the Bush twins, where Jenna reminds him that she became engaged in a national park. Following a bizarre (and somewhat uncomfortable) dream sequence in which Barney envisions being married to Miss Beazley, Barney runs around the White House for, like, the umpteenth time, while people around him are putting up Christmas decorations.
And not "running around" in a particularly interesting/comical way, like Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci in "Home Alone". Nope, just running around. Up and down the newly-cleaned floors of the White House.
Apparently, "running around" was all that was needed to become meet the criteria, because — SPOILER ALERT! — Barney and Miss Beazly are sworn in as Junior Park Rangers. I guess (although it’s not made clear) their "big idea" was to have the national parks serve as places for doggie weddings.
To this reviewer, I found the whole "Junior Park Ranger" plot line a little far-fetched. I seriously doubted that the United States Government would bestow such a title on a couple of terriors (not to be confused with "terrorists"), even if they are the President’s
terrorists terriors. But more importantly, I didn’t care.
The performances by Barney and Miss Beazley were predictably cute, but the human performaces were stilted. I honestly believe that the part of Mrs. Laura Bush was actually a computer generated effect, or possibly Cesar Romero reviving his "Joker" character from the hit TV series Batman.
Much of the film was shot from the viewpoint of Barney, with the human actors looking into the camera and talking to the camera as if it was Barney. That may have been "cutting edge" for the first Barney film several years ago, but now it is hackneyed and forced.
The soundtrack, largely provided by the "President’s Own" United States Marine Corps Band was jazzy and uplifting and definitely had a Christmas appeal, but it couldn’t save this film.
And the biggest sin of all — at times it seemed as if the whole film was just one giant public relations advertisement for the National Park Service, and had nothing to do with Christmas.
For these reasons, I give the film two large paws down.
If one can endure the entire 7-minute waste, there is a "Cannonball Run" type outtake at the end. It seems that when Barney was filming his scene with the President of the United States, Barney ran off! Hahahahahahahahaha! You see, they were filming the scene, and the dog ran away! And the President had to say "Come here, Barney" because his dog had run out of camerashot!! I mean, who could have predicted that outtake? Pure comedy gold!