Monday, November 30, 2009
Movie Review: A Dog Named Christmas
This holiday movie tells the tale of a developmentally challenged young man, with a penchant for caring for animals in need, who sets out to convince his family - and their whole rural community - to participate in a local shelter's inaugural Adopt a Dog for Christmas Program.
Todd McCray (Fisher), a responsible and developmentally challenged 20-year-old, lives on a farm in Kansas with his loving parents, George (Greenwood) and Mary Ann (Emond). Both Mary Ann and George are forever inspired and impressed by the upbeat Todd, who assists with numerous chores on the farm and is known for regularly rescuing and nursing wounded wild animals back to health. George often describes Todd as having "his own way of thinking about things." However, Todd's way of thinking ends up clashing with George's when a radio promotion for the local animal shelter's first-ever "Adopt a Dog for Christmas Program" - which entails caring for a dog during Christmas week, with the option of keeping the dog for good - creates a keen desire in Todd to adopt a lonely pup for the holiday.
Though George stubbornly opposes the idea, Todd's special gifts of persuasion result in their bringing home a yellow Labrador, whom Todd names "Christmas" and bonds with immediately. Todd soon makes it his mission to ensure that all of the shelter's numerous caged dogs are brought into friendly homes for the holiday, and he uses creative and persistent means of inspiring the families in his community to do their part.
A DOG NAMED CHRISTMAS is a Hallmark Hall of Fame production. Brent Shields ("The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler") is executive producer; Peter Werner ("Front of the Class") is the director; Jenny Wingfield ("The Man in the Moon") wrote the script based on the novel by Greg Kincaid.
Is it possible for a movie to be heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the same time? It must be because this movie was both things. The sweetness of Todd, the developmentally challenged young man, is so touching. He tries so hard to prove to his father, who has issues of his own (being a Vietnam war vet), that he is responsible and capable, despite his limitations. But the father, in his quest to treat Todd like "everyone else", sometimes misses the point...that Todd is an especially thoughtful and caring young man, above and beyond the norm, and at times he should be treated as something special. A point his wife is constantly trying to make. Don't get me wrong. By no means does the father treat Todd unfairly, but he does tend to be a little hard...again, largely because of his own personal demons.
This movie (and the book it's based on) does a nice job of displaying the plight of animals without homes. In a program around Christmas to "adopt" a shelter dog over the holidays, a dog named Christmas (by Todd) comes in to this family's lives and changes everything. It is a story of overcoming personal obstacles and seeing the point of view and needs of others. Although I was tearful throughout the movie (my mom was the same), I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good Christmas movie with a message. Now, to read the book!
This was a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that aired Sunday night on CBS.