Holiday Watch: The Christmas Shepherd

xmasshep 800 1095580Sally Brown is an award-winning children’s book author. Mark Green lives a few towns over and is striving to build his new coffee shop business. Neither has any reason to cross the other’s path until Buddy, The Christmas Shepherd, decides to meddle.

Buddy, a German Shepherd brought from overseas five years before by Sally’s late husband, is frightened by a severe thunderstorm and runs away when a hole in a fence presents itself. Tired and slightly injured, he’s picked up by a Christmas tree merchant and taken to an animal shelter to get patched up. Sally (Teri Polo) is beside herself and focuses on finding her lost dog.

When Mark (Martin Cummins) and his sister do the rounds of shelters to find dogs suitable for adoption, Buddy and Mark meet and it’s obvious, despite his protestations, that Mark has been chosen. Though at first reluctant, Mark’s daughter Emma (Jordyn Ashley Olson) quickly warms to Buddy as well.

A couple of weeks after his disappearance, Sally is finally reunited with Buddy. It’s not the happiest situation. Neither Sally or Emma is eager to relinquish their claim to the lovable canine. Visits ensue, and everyone starts getting comfortable with each other. In fact, both Sally and Mark are willing to do something neither has done in years: risk sharing their heart…or at least take the first steps.

As with many holiday dramas, the pacing of this story is very deliberate, but not as slow as some others. The characters are likable, and the tone never becomes maudlin or melodramatic. It, too, stays very deliberate.

The failing of this movie is that it doesn’t really have a third act. It ends with Sally staying over because of car trouble. But then…credit roll. While it’s nice that Mark and Sally seem to be accepting of the possibility of maybe something developing with their relationship (they even <gasp> kiss), we never get to see them take that next step of even dating regularly. As a result, the conclusion comes off more as a plot turning point than as a climax. There is at least one more act’s work of story to tell. Perhaps had the pacing been less measured, there’d have been time for it.

I do appreciate that not all movies have to move at a breakneck pace. I don’t have a problem with that. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you don’t have the requirement of putting in just as much story. I can’t help but feel this tale could have benefited from more commitment to the ending.

The Christmas Shepherd is the sort of movie that offers up some emotion without you having to reach for the box of tissue. The acting is fine, and the relationships develop at a plausible pace. Unfortunately, the viewer is rewarded with a milder conclusion than had been earned. Worth a view, and enjoyable if you don’t expect it to be more than it is.

3 of 5 

For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies

Photo Credit: Copyright 2014 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Bettina Strauss

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