Saving Shiloh

Finally, the third and final movie in the Shiloh series!  The what?  The acclaimed Shiloh novels by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Shiloh, Shiloh Season, and Saving Shiloh, are about a boy and the dog he rescues from an abusive owner.  The first two movies arrived with little to no notice in 1996 and 1999, and seven years later, Saving Shiloh comes in with a whimper.  The movie theater is really the wrong place for something like this.  It has the feel of a direct-to-video movie, and about the same quality of one also.  Saving Shiloh is one of those extremely bland family movies that has a great moral lesson for children but is utterly boring.  There's nothing inherently wrong with the movie; it's just a bit bland.

There are two types of films that pass for "family" entertainment.  The first is the hyperactive movie that usually has stupid toilet humor.  The second, which Saving Shiloh falls into, tries so hard not to offend anybody that it fails to engage adults or children for any prolonged amount of time.  It's safe for kids, but is not something they will want to watch again.  There is a sense of consistency to Saving Shiloh.  Dale Rosenbloom adapted all three movies for the screen.  Director Sandy Tung (Soccer Dog:  European Cup) also directed Shiloh Season.  The story this time is that Judd Travers (Scott Wilson, Junebug, The Last Samurai), the Shiloh's abusive first owner, gets into a car accident.  Shiloh's owner Marty Preston (Jason Dolley) and his family decide to help Travers.

Travers is the town pariah.  Everybody thinks he is weird, even Preston's father Ray (Gerald McRaney, Hansel & Gretel), who knew Travers all his life.  Travers is mean to everybody, hits his animals (he hit Shiloh long ago).  His own dogs are chained, and very aggressive.  Travers drives a big old truck and lives by himself.  The same night of the accident, Travers was in a fight with another man.  The police later found the man dead, leaving Travers the prime suspect.  As much as Ray disliked Travers, he did not believe that Judd was capable of killing somebody.  The Preston family, with a reluctant Marty, did what they could to help him recover.

Still, Marty harbored his suspicions and tried to investigate the murder on his own.  This is all fine and dandy, but the Judd Travers character is far too easy to read.  Every character keeps mentioning how weird he is.  He isn't very talkative, and looks angry every time he's on screen.  Tung and Rosenbloom are painting a gigantic sign over him saying "NOT THE KILLER."  After all, Marty needs to learn a lesson about redemption and wrong impressions.  For any slow children watching, Ray mentions these lessons to Marty approximately every ten minutes.  Marty will warm up to Judd, then something happens and he becomes suspicious.  Then Marty will warm up again, and something else will happen.  This becomes very repetitive.  If the movie were half an hour, it would still retain whatever effect it was trying to achieve.  It also doesn't help that all of the characters speak with an artificial earnestness that does not sound natural at all.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements and mild peril.

Back to Movies