Most of the time I can control my emotions when watching a film. Show me an adult in pain or the goriest of scenes and I am usually unmoved. Armed with that information you might think me cold and callous, but wait for it…if, however, there are children and/or animals in physical or emotional pain then I am a mess. Guess, it must be about their vulnerability. Whatever the case, this is a film that involves a lonely young boy and his bond with a dog. Needless to say I was a mess at certain parts of it.
Willie Morris (Frankie Muniz – from Malcolm in the Middle) and his family move to Yazoo City, Mississippi in 1942. He is not happy about the move and has a hard time making friends in his new city. Even worse he is subject to bullying by Big Boy Wilkinson (Bradley Coryell – Now and Then). In the hopes of cheering up their young son, his mother (Diane Lane – Secretariat, Unfaithful) goes against the wishes of his father (Kevin Bacon – Footloose, Mystic River), who lost his leg in the war, and buys him a terrier pup for his tenth birthday. Willie names his new best friend Skip.
Skip is a dog with personality to burn and becomes known and loved throughout the town of Yazoo City. Skip and Willie are always off on an adventure together. If only Willie could get him to stop drinking out of the toilet. As Willie grows up Skip is still always there for him. They are inseparable.
The importance of friendship, whether it is of the two-legged or four-legged variety, really comes through in director Jay Russell's (Ladder 49, Tuck Everlasting) film. Also, the importance and value of the human-dog bond is well illustrated. A boy and his dog. How these creatures enrich our lives cannot be underestimated. Required viewing for animal lovers and dog owners, but you do not have to own a dog to enjoy the film.
Type of film that every time I watch I am reduced to a blubbering mess. Just has that effect on me. I think most people who have owned a pet can relate to the emotions of the story. Ending is just a killer. Powerful five minutes. Dog lovers beware!
A great film that you can safely watch with the entire family regardless of age. Don't be fooled by the PG rating as it must be because of one thing that happens to the dog and a couple of instances of language. But I think that they are exaggerating with the PG rating, if you ask my opinion. There are very few films made that have no issue with language, violence or sex and this is one of them. The only issues are the emotional ones and how much it would affect the viewer. Just make sure you have tissues on hand while watching it and you should be fine.
I was quite impressed with Frankie Muniz – something I have never said before and since – in this film. He is able to run the gamut of emotions required of his character with realism and ease. It is a case of perfect casting. Despite the fact that he is surrounded by big actors like Diane Lane, Kevin Bacon and Luke Wilson it is Muniz who steals the show. Well, in the human category as the Jack Russell terrier who is Skip is the true star.