Dean Cain Christmas Movies: An (Almost) Definitive Guide

One-time Superman Dean Cain has made lots of Christmas movies, mainly with dogs in them. We, er, watched them...

This article originally appeared on Den of Geek UK.

Warning! This article contains the kind of swearing you’d expect from someone who’s sat through 13 Dean Cain Christmas movies, and mild peril in the form of ailing sanity. It has also been updated frequently with new releases. Spoilers ahead!

If you’re anything like me you might have some fairly warm, fuzzy memories of Dean Cain. He was Superman! He brought Superman back! Supes! So fun to watch on Saturday afternoons or after school, saving Metropolis from do-badders and waiting for Lois to notice him without his cape on just once.

Okay, so what has Cain been up to since Lois and Clark: The New Adventures Of Supermanfinished? I mean, sure, you saw him in an episode of that one show. And then there was that other time. And then there’s his role on Supergirl. Sure! Why not?

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Hmm, but haven’t we also found out over the years that Cain has become nearly as famous for his hardcore Republican political views? Yep, that was definitely him endorsing Texan nightmare Rick Perry for President back in 2012. And then, in 2016, he was vocally Team Trump. Hmm, warm and fuzzy memories suddenly becoming less warm and fuzzy…

Politics aside, would it surprise you to know that Dean Cain has made over 100 movies since he took off Clark’s glasses for good? And that a whole lot of them are Christmas movies? And that in a big chunk of them his co-star is a dog…?

Grab yourself a hot toddy and come sit by the crackling fire, because baby it’s cold outside – and also because you’re about to enter a world of holly, jolly pain and you might as well get comfortable.

The Dog Who Saved Christmas (2009

The Dog Who Saved Christmas (2009)

There are five of these films. Luckily for me, only three of them are about Christmas. This first one is about a dog called Zeus – voiced by Saved By The Bell’s Mario Lopez – who saves Christmas in a way that is completely different to the film Home Alone.

Kevin ‘Paul Blart’ James’ less expensive brother plays the patriarch of a family who live in a very nice neighbourhood. Unfortunately, there has been a spate of robberies on the street so far this holiday season perpetrated by two rough-looking guys in a van, unlike in the film Home Alone.

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Dean Cain plays the Joe Pesci of the duo with a Noo Yawk accent and stubble – so you know he’s bad. Adrienne Barbeau plays a menacing-looking neighbor, who Zeus is told to avoid because she’s maybe a killer or something. Later in the film she is in fact revealed to be a sweet old lady, who delivers a heartfelt speech about her loneliness, entirely different from the film Home Alone.

Inevitably, Zeus the dog saves the day, dashing Dean Cain’s plans of robbing the wealthy family’s house by engineering a series of ingenious Christmas-themed traps while the family are away. This is definitely not Home Alone with a dog. Home Alone.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

Nope. Tries to ruin it.

A very special dialogue:

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At one point Kevin James’ brother takes a weird, naked bath with the dog. As he gently wets its back with a sponge he mutters “you’re going to love it here” in a way that can only be described as vaguely threatening. This scene alone was more disturbing than any horror film I’ve seen this year.

Dean Canine?

It’s called The Dog Who Saved Christmas.

The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation (2010)

The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation (2010)

The second one of these is far and away the best of the three. The writing is snappier, the editing is tighter and Casper Van Dien joins the fray as an in-family antagonist called Uncle Randy (no comment).

This time Kevin James’ brother and his family, including Zeus the dog of course, are vacationing at a ski lodge when Dean Cain and his brother show up completely coincidentally to steal a celebutant’s diamond necklace. They got out of jail for their last robberies really quickly; I guess sentences longer than 11 months aren’t canon in the Christmas Dog Movie world.

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Zeus foils the robbery and Dean and his partner are once again back off to jail. This impresses his new doggy girlfriend, voiced by Paris Hilton. I don’t know. Help.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

Absolutely not.

A very special dialogue:

“We’ll finally get revenge on the mangy mutt that made us spend last Christmas behind bars,” Cain rages. Is he related to the judge? How is he doing so little time?

Dean Canine?

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Really angry at dogs in this one. Really angry.

The Dog Who Saved The Holidays (2012

The Dog Who Saved The Holidays (2012)

The third one of the Dog Who Saved Christmas films is sad as hell on like a bunch of different levels.

Firstly, the voice of Zeus – Mario Lopez – has been replaced by Joey Lawrence from Blossom. It’s weird.

Secondly, the plot is jam-packed full of heart-wrenching moments as Zeus is seemingly being replaced by a newer, cuter puppy.

Thirdly, the film asks us to spend a lot of time thinking about Kevin James’ brother’s sex life. More than I’m comfortable with. Which is zero.

Fourthly, Shelley Long is just really weird as the sister. She’s so squirrely and odd. I’m worried about her.

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further reading: 25 Unsung Christmas Icons

Lastly, Dean Cain’s character is back out of prison again (how) and on the straight and narrow running a mobile dog-grooming service. Unfortunately he owes a ton of money to a gangster, who asks him to pay off the debt by robbing Shelley Long’s house. He agrees. Just when he thinks he’s out, they pull him back in.

Fart jokes are like 60% of the plot.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

Dog. Dog do good dog thing. Good dog. Dog good.

A very special dialogue:

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*fart**fart**fart*

Dean Canine?

Loves dogs. Then hates ‘em. Then loves ‘em again when they save his ass from another round of jail time in a third act twist.

The Case For Christmas (2011)

The Case For Christmas (2011)

Cain eagerly suckles from the eggnog-squirting teat of the Hallmark Channel in this dollar store knock-off of Miracle On 34th Street.

Here, he plays a lawyer defending Santa from Bad People for Reasons, whilst simultaneously parenting his growing daughter, mourning the loss of his wife and somehow remaining squarely ignorant of his glamorous mechanic(!)’s desperate thirst for his candy Cain (randomly played by Peep Show’s Rachel Blanchard, who is just so much better than this).

further reading: The Best and Worst Adaptations of A Christmas Carol

Filmed on DV (and if it wasn’t, it sure looks like it) complete with badly-framed shots and a host of bit-part actors struggling with their lines, the most proficient thing about this is a 24-style ad-breaker which counts the growing number of people losing their Christmas spirit, adding at least some small amount of tension to what is otherwise a barely-competent seasonal hash.

I can report that Cain makes for a fairly decent lawyer in this one. He’s at least as believable as archaeologist Tara Reid in Alone In The Dark.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

Mainly his daughter does.

A very special dialogue:

“Everyone’s talking about this; it’s all over the internet!” yelps Blanchard about the importance of Santa’s case. Unlikely. You can bet that if it was all over the internet, 4chan would’ve doxxed Santa faster than you can list the names of his reindeer.

Dean Canine?

Santa insists he brought Dean a toy called ‘Legal Beagle’ when he was a boy – a dog dressed up like a lawyer. What is it with this man and dogs?

A Christmas Wedding (2006)

A Christmas Wedding (2006)

This wasn’t that bad. I mean, it was bad, but compared to some of the others in this article, it was Citizen Kane.

American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson stars as a woman trying to get home for her Christmas wedding. Yep, she’s getting married on Christmas Day. Which seems like a really dumb idea, but for the purposes of the plot it works okay. It’s kind of like a sickly-sweet Planes, Trains & Automobiles and when I say sickly-sweet, I mean trying to watch any scene where she interacts with her future husband is like swimming through maple syrup. Hard going. They’re desperately in love – to the point where characters from Barbara Cartland novels would tell them to pack it in, for crying out loud.

further reading: A Complete Christmas Streaming Guide

The vol-Cain-o is a supporting player in this one. He plays Paulson’s sociopathic, workaholic boss, who tries to ruin her wedding by piling more and more work on her tiny shoulders as she makes the trip home to her nuptials. Not because he wants her for himself or anything, he just needs her to be like him and not give a shit about anything but work. With this version of Dean Cain – from his Michael Douglas-esque V-neck sweater-wearing poolside attire, to his Dodge Viper penis extension – I was able to suspend my disbelief 100%.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

No, he is a git.

A very special dialogue:

“I love you sooooo much.” x 128738974874

Dean Canine?

Dean takes the time to mention that his ex-wife got custody of the dog in his divorce. I am now fully convinced that there contractually has to be some sort of reference to dogs in every movie he does.

BONUS CONNEXMAS:

George Buza, who played Santa in The Case For Christmas, crops up as ‘Big Daddy’ – a biker who gives Paulson a ride on one of the last legs of her journey.

Defending Santa (2013)

Defending Santa (2013)

I guess Cain loved The Case For Christmas so much he decided to make it again. This is the same Miracle On 34th Street plot; the only real difference is that in this one Dean wants to bang the lawyer defending Santa, instead of being the lawyer himself.

further reading: The Best Christmas Movies on Netflix

Once again, Cain’s a widowed man recovering from the loss of his wife and raising a daughter alone. Once again, he must find the Christmas Spirit within himself with the help of Kris Kringle. He made the same movie twice! What is happening! How is this allowed!

I actually cried during this for some reason. I’m losing it, man.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

I mean, I guess he helps a little. That’s something, right?

A very special dialogue:

“I don’t hate dogs.” NO SHIT.

Dean Canine?

The first shot is Cain riding in a police car with a dog. Dog action reoccurs throughout.

A Nanny For Christmas (2010)

A Nanny For Christmas (2010)

I felt dicked over by this one. The front cover has Dean Cain and Emmanuelle Vaugier in typical rom-com poses and Cain is second billing, but he’s only in this for about three minutes. The actual story centres on Vaugier losing her job as an ad exec after making a faux pas during a pitch meeting with Cain and subsequently falling into a job working as a nanny for another ad exec.

further reading: The Anti-Christmas Spirit of Krampus

Hijinks ensue and she ends up Working Girl-ing her way back up the ladder, repairing her mistake with Cain and falling in love with a Generic McManface.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

He’s not in it enough to even SMELL saving Christmas.

A very special dialogue:

No special dialogue, but there’s a song over the end credits with the name of the movie in. I kind of love those.

Dean Canine?

I was all set to tell you that this was the only one I saw without a dog, and then THREE MINUTES from the end the kids Vaugier has been looking after get a goddamn puppy for Christmas. I give up.

A Christmas Adventure… From A Book Called Wisely’s Tales (2001)

A Christmas Adventure… From A Book Called Wisely’s Tales (2001)

This 49-minute-long, terribly animated movie was released six years after the first Toy Story and yet manages to appear as if it were made in the very early days of CGI modelling. I know it seems like I’m being harsh on some of these, but a lot of them really are flaming trash fires.

further reading: Putting the Christmas Back in The Nightmare Before Christmas

Dean Cain voices reindeer Donner who, along with Vixen, gets lost in the woods far away from Santa and has to find his way back to him. That is it.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

Kinda not.

A very special dialogue:

“This is shaping up to be one fantastic adventure!” No.

Dean Canine?

There weren’t any dogs in this.

There weren’t any…dogs…in……wait, is a wolf a dog?

*checks Wikipedia*

NO, IT IS NOT. YES. THIS IS IT! VICTORY LAP! WOO!

Hmm, but is 49 minutes technically a film? I mean…NO. NO. I’M PLANTING THE FLAG. THIS IS IT. YOU CAN’T TAKE THIS FROM ME. No!

The Three Dogateers Save Christmas (2014)

The Three Dogateers Save Christmas (2014)

Dean Cain leaves his three dogs, Barkos, Wagos, and Arfamis, at home on Christmas. They get lost and then inevitably return home (with a little help from a familiar jolly man in a red suit) to save Christmas.

This movie has some problems. A lot of footage is filmed through a fisheye lens for some reason. It’s never from the dog’s eye view, so that makes it even stranger. Also, unlike the Dog Who Saved… films, they actually have the mouths moving on the dogs as though they’re speaking – but it’s not done well. I found myself trying not to look directly at the dogs’ mouths when they talked, just in case I went completely mad. It’s very weird.

further reading: Complete Christmas Movie and TV Schedule

But despite these problems, Three Dogateers is easily the best of the dog movies in this list. There are funny jokes that actually land, a kind of bonkers sense of surrealism throughout and it’s fairly easy to see the dogs as real characters.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

No, but he eats a lot of donuts.

A very special dialogue:

“Everybody knows alligators aren’t from Australia!” No context.

Dean Canine?

Yep. Yep. Yap yap yap.

Merry Ex-Mas (2014)

Merry Ex-Mas (2014)

Cain stars with the original Buffy Kristy Swanson in this yuletide rom-com. They got divorced because she thought that he cheated, even though he didn’t, but he definitely has since they’ve been separated and so has she. In fact, she’s sort of engaged to Scary Movie’s Lochlyn Munro and his terrible Irish accent now. And Dean’s in the middle of a sexy fling with a Vegas dancer. When they’re trapped together during the Christmas holidays, it’s only a matter of time before sparks start to fly…

further reading: The Best Christmas Movies on Amazon Prime

Really nice to see Cain not phoning it. He actually emotes here. It’s not too bad a movie, actually. Maybe the best one not starring a talking dog.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

Christmas is not really the issue here. It’s only Christmas in this film the way that it’s Christmas in Shane Black films. It’s just part of the set dressing.

A very special dialogue:

“Bees! Swarming after me! We gotta get out of here!” Unsure if this really happened or if I accidentally turned over to the Wicker Man remake halfway through.

Dean Canine?

Two words: dog sled.

BONUS CONNEXMAS:

This was directed by Brian Skiba, who IMDb informs me was declared Arizona’s Filmmaker of the Year 2011. He also directed Cain’s Defending Santa.

Small Town Santa a.k.a. Christmas Miracle (2014)

Small Town Santa a.k.a. Christmas Miracle (2014)

Welp, if you’re a big fan of the now-somehow-traditional tale of Dean Cain playing the Sheriff of a small town who gets a visit from Santa to restore his Christmas spirit after losing his wife and also trying to deal with the whims of his emotional teenage daughter, you’re in luck – here we are again.

Said emotional teenage daughter falls asleep one night and dreams of visiting Santa’s workshop, where the man in red asks her what she truly wants for Christmas this year. Apparently, if you visit Santa in a dream then he returns the favor in real life, because he’s soon hanging out in a cell at Cain’s police station and dishing out friendly psychological counselling to all and sundry.

further reading: The Best Christmas Movies on Hulu

This is the most directly religious one on the list, with plenty of church scenes, nativity shenanigans and even the odd “God can save you from addiction” poster dotted around, but that isn’t the underlying problem with the film. Aside from the distinct feeling that you’ve seen it all before, the real issue here is the guy they got to play Santa, Paul Hopper…

…he is absolutely terrifying.

Sure, he speaks in that deep, soothing tone you’d expect from a yuletide gift-giver with a belly like a bowlful of jelly, but he has a face like an actual serial killer, so it all comes across really menacingly. It does not do wonders for the film’s tone.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

No, this is all about Christmas saving Dean.

A very special dialogue:

“Rick wants love for Christmas,” Santa explains.

“Pff, sandwiches are better,” retorts the local drunk.

Hard to disagree.

Dean Canine?

There is a police dog. His name is Max. Cain talks to the dog a LOT.

Beverly Hills Christmas (2015)

Beverly Hills Christmas (2015)

Dean stars as the angel Gabriel in this absolute shitshow of a flick about a spoiled young rich girl by the name of Ravin (Ravin Spangler), who loses her mum in a tragic accident and later spends Christmas learning how to empathise with the poor at a local homeless shelter.

As the ghost of her dead mum (and real-life mom, erstwhile Playboy model Donna Spangler) watches on helplessly, Ravin treats everyone around her like pure garbage, including her own daddy loads-a-bucks, whose main character trait seems to be wearing a light sweater tied around his shoulders. Around this central story, other characters read their lines aloud in static shots or bafflingly extreme close-ups, often making ill-timed jokes during emotional moments about terminal illnesses.

further reading: The Best Santa Slasher Movies

As for Dean, he’s around at the beginning to offer up some afterlife advice, but then disappears for a large portion of the movie, only returning in the back half to witness a miracle happen in a hospital, during which he dons some sunglasses in slow motion while saying “cooooooool.” Words cannot do the scene justice.

There’s also a subplot about a multi-million-dollar con and a punk band called Yellow Snow. At the end, the mainly white cast all dance to a Christmas rap.

Honestly, I encourage you to watch this one for yourselves – it is staggeringly, magnificently terrible, and it somehow got a sequel.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

In a kind of oblique way, sure.

A very special dialogue:

“You gain a new perspective on life when you get dirty!” Also my Tinder bio.

Dean Canine?

There’s a small, yappy-type dog called Bunny in the movie. She can see ghosts, so they try and milk a few laughs out of that.

Broadcasting Christmas (2016)

Broadcasting Christmas (2016)

From the director of 12 Wishes Of Christmas, All About Christmas Eve, Christmas Twister, Christmas Under Wraps, A Christmas Mystery, 12 Gifts Of Christmas, The Flight Before Christmas, Wrapped Up In Christmas and Sharing Christmas…comes Broadcasting Christmas. Peter Sullivan’s the name, and timely Christmas fluff on a budget’s the game. This man knows his shit. This is the guy you call when you want a slam-dunk made-for-TV Christmas movie and no mistake. This is the Peter Dinklage in Elf of festive fucking nonsense, and god DAMN if it isn’t the most watchable film on this list. This is why Peter Sullivan, a man that neither you nor I have ever heard of until this very moment, gets paid the big bucks.

further reading: The Best Winter Horror Movies

The Cainster stars alongside Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Clarissa Explains It All alumna Melissa Joan Hart in this winsome tale of love lost and ambition fulfilled. These two were once sweethearts, y’see, but Cain got a big broadcasting job in the city and left our Melissa behind to fend for herself amongst the endless small-town drudgery of local news channel minutiae. When a national daytime TV spot suddenly opens up that they both want very badly, they’re forced back together and are soon fighting tooth and nail to be the one that brings the entire country several interminable hours of “…and finally,” stories a day.

Boys, I was in it from minute one.

Does Dean help save Christmas?

Hard no.

A very special dialogue:

Was so busy actually watching this one I didn’t find any gems, but I feel like now’s the time to take the misleading tagline to task. “Miracles have been known to happen”? I mean, if they have, they’re nowhere in this film, the entire plot was miracle-free.

Dean Canine?

Spotted zero dogs. No one even mentioned a dog. Broadcasting Christmas has officially won Christmas.

Lessons Learned

Christmas good. Cats bad.

Merry Christwoof, one and all.

And remember: Dean Cain films are for life, not just for Christmas.