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A developmentally challenged young man with a penchant for caring for animals in need 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." Written by
This teleplay was based on a novel of the same name by author Greg Kincaid, who himself appeared at the end of the telecast on its original air date, along with his adopted dog, Rudy, to make a personal appeal for dog adoption. See more »
This was a typical Hallmark Hall of Fame movie: warm, fuzzy, slice-of-life Americana, and I think everyone pretty much knew how it was going to end. Nothing wrong with that, however; we all need a certain amount of that to keep our spirits up. I liked that it wasn't too formulaic--you know, the crusty, closed-down father who really loves his son but can't show it, etc. That wasn't the case here. Bruce Greenwood's character kept a few things close to his vest (Vietnam, the loss of his dogs), but he was certainly not closed down, and was capable of giving and showing affection. Clearly he had a stable, loving family. I loved his relationship with his son, the way he would tease him and the son's mock-indignant responses, which both knew were all part of the game, and the matter-of-fact way he and his wife raised him: firm but loving, realizing he had special needs but not wanting to coddle him too much (a little overprotective at times, perhaps, but who wouldn't be?). The scene where they get out of the car to walk to the shelter and Todd holds his father's hand--not out of physical need but out of love--was one of those little moving touches throughout the movie.
I also liked the fact that Todd was completely accepted, not only by his family (even his young nieces and nephews), but also by his rural community. Everyone treated him with respect and affection without forgetting that he was developmentally challenged. There was no doubt that he was the way he was because of his loving home life. Yet he wasn't cloying because he wasn't perfect (hated to clean his room, for example).
And Noel Fisher deserves a lot of credit for his performance. I'd seen him in "Law and Order Special Victims Unit" where he played a really creepy psychopath and I barely recognized him as the same actor. He was able to capture the sweetness and simplicity of Todd without being condescending or going over the top: the wonderment in the eyes, the way his mouth hesitated sometimes before speaking as he tried to process what was going on, even the way he moved, like a child in a man's body. I loved the fact that he was so uninhibited about showing happiness and affection. I wonder if the actor knew or studied such people in real life, because he seemed to understand so many subtle aspects of how they behave--but all done very respectfully and realistically.
I tend to be wary of sentimental made-for-TV movies in general, but I have to say I was pleased with this one, predictable though it was.
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