Shiloh (1996)

Genres - Children's/Family, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Animal Picture, Family Drama, Family-Oriented Adventure  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Boy-and-his-dog movies don't get much more prototypical than Shiloh. In fact, it may surprise viewers that Shiloh was released as recently as 1996, since it's quaint and old-fashioned enough to have come out 30 years earlier. But something about Shiloh found an audience, or, at least, enough of one to prompt sequels in 1999 and 2006. The film is quite straightforward -- hunter abuses dog, dog finds boy, boy embraces dog, hunter tries to get dog back, boy fights to save dog from hunter's evil clutches. As this sequence takes a surprisingly long time to play out, other details color the film in, such as the fact that the nasty hunter (Scott Wilson) was mistreated by his father, and that the kindly veterinarian (Rod Steiger) lost a son and daughter-in-law to a car accident. So the film is not quite as fluffy as most live-action children's movies, but it does share with them a certain stagnant quality that has generally afflicted the live-action kiddie fare released by Disney, for example. Characterized by the dusty tones of a small country farm town, Shiloh lacks the colorful pop that makes animated movies so popular with the demographic. There's no doubt that Shiloh has its heart in the right place -- maybe too much. Parents probably appreciate it more than their kids, thinking it will serve a function for their kids that it probably doesn't. The dog sure is cute, but the modern generation of children grows increasingly less satisfied with such folksy simplicity, especially once they're old enough to choose for themselves.