I admit it: I’m a sucker for a “smart dog” flick, and while Chestnut may not be Lassie, he’s still at least a Marmaduke. On the other hand, Jump In ! is a tweener’s delight set in the fast-paced, hard knock world of Double Dutch. If it hadn’t been rushed into production to capitalize on Corbin bleu’s popularity following his appearance in High School Musical, perhaps it wouldn’t have wound as such a maudlin, by the numbers, effort…
Sisters Sal [McKenzie Vega] and Rae [Abigal Breslin] live in an orphanage where, though treated kindly enough, they watch enviously as other little girls are adopted and they remain behind. One day, a couple of less-than-savory types dump a stowaway puppy in a field near the orphanage and he is found by the girls. Sal names Chestnut, for his brown coat and the two smuggle him into the orphanage [which has a strict no pets policy – but Sal has been praying for a puppy, so…]
The next day, a charming couple [Justin Louis and Christine Tucci] adopts the sisters and, once again, they have to smuggle Chestnut [who is not very helpful] to their new home – a posh condo complex which, surprise! has a no pets policy as well. Hijinx ensue, but are complicated by the aforementioned two unsavory characters [Maurice Godin and Fred Ewanuik] who just happen to be high-tech thieves with a grudge against the owner of the condo complex [and several other similar buildings] – and with something approaching a real reason.
Chestnut is, by no means, groundbreaking stuff but it is a well made little bit of fluff that features winning performances from Vega [sister of Alexa Vega, from the Spy Kids movies] and a pre-Little Miss Sunshine Breslin. Much of the humor derives from the fact that the cute little puppy is a Great Dane and, in a few short months, becomes impossible to hide [what with becoming huge and all…]. Then there’s the whole smart dog thing – Chestnut is not just intelligent, he’s clever!
How all the plot elements come together is relatively standard fare, but the cast has terrific chemistry and chestnut is a very likable canine lead. Some of the humor is sophomoric, but some isn’t – and the film’s heart is always in the right place. This is one of those family films that won’t embarrass the