The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Specials

Christmas TV specials, limited series and movies are bigger than ever these days from now until the New Year, you’ll be able to find some festive yule-tide programming every night of the week. From the traditional viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to baking shows and live music specials, we’ve got them all listed on the new Christmas TV Specials page. (Since not all of the networks list their specials early, this list will be updated throughout the coming weeks, so check back often for new additions!)

Redemptive ‘Shot’ Starts Off with a Bang and Then Misfires

Noah Wyle in "Shot."
Noah Wyle gets "Shot" in new film. (AC Transformative Media)


Produced and directed Jeremy Kagan from a script written by William Lamborn and Anneke Campbell, Shot has been a labor of love for many involved in the project including star Noah Wyle, who also served as an executive producer of the film. He must have learned a few things during his days on NBC’s E.R., because his performance is something else. Though uneven, the film is very engrossing when it isn’t preaching about gun control. The premise and some of the techniques in the film are clever and the story grabs you right from the beginning, but after the first two-thirds, the story begins to stumble.

Shot is basically two stories merged into one. Wyle plays Mark, a workaholic movie editor who struggles with signing divorce papers from his wife, Phoebe (Sharon Leal). Miguel (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.) is a bullied teen. The two inadvertently cross paths when Miguel’s cousin convinces him to carry a gun to school to scare off his bullies. While inspecting the gun, it fires off a bullet into the chest of Mark who falls to the ground in shock. From there, the story is told in “real time” with a split screen showing Mark’s journey to the hospital while Miguel is running trying to figure out what to do.

Movie review of "Shot."
Jorge Lendeborg, Jr. in Shot.
The scenes within the ambulance and emergency room are some of the film’s finest thanks to Malcolm-Jamal Warner who effectively plays an EMT and Xander Berkeley who plays Dr. Roberts, an E.R. chief resident who has seen it all before and isn’t best with bedside manner. Phoebe can only look on in disbelief. The scenes feel incredibly real, perhaps the most believable I’ve ever seen. These are the movie’s best scenes. Meanwhile, on the other side of the screen, Lendeborg doesn’t get to do too much except hide.

About two-thirds through, Shot jumps “five months later” and we see that Mark and Phoebe are still struggling with their marriage and are living apart. Miguel on the other hand is also struggling with school and wondering how to make things right. He visits his priest who tells Miguel that he needs to tell the police what happened. His mother doesn’t agree.

The uneven script also contains a few clunky lines that cheapen the film. For instance, when one character opens a drawer to find a gun inside, the character actually says, “Is that a gun?” In another scene, Miguel tells his mom that he wants to confess but she “reminds” him that he’s “brown” and won’t be treated well if he does. She also says that he’s “breaking her heart” which feels out of place given the mood of the scene.

As you’ve probably guessed, Mark and Miguel meet up face-to-face, but before then, the movie’s last third falls apart somewhat. The storyline feels rushed. Just when we get to see some of Wyle’s best acting with Mark dealing with the all of the pain he has been going through, the tone of the scene changes dramatically. From there, the story feel less like a movie and more like an old afterschool TV special. It is redemptive, something I applaud the film for, but it also feels forced, preachy and even a little insulting.

While the end product could be better, the film ends on a positive note and overall, it might be worth watching it together with your older teens and then discuss what you saw over a burger and fries.

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