|Page 8 of 15:||            |
|Index||149 reviews in total|
This is a very well done movie, it takes a subject that can be difficult to explain, and puts it in simple terms. Those who weren't sure of Frankie's acting abilities in the beginning will find that he is really all everyone says he is. He has proven himself a wonderful young actor, and the dog is cute too.
Why doesn't the industry realize that people want to see movies with their FAMILIES?! This is just such a movie and people are hungry for that. The movie is wonderful and the cast is great! Kevin and Diane were great, but more surprisingly was the incredible cast of kids' who were all so exciting, believeable and natural; I was so drawn in. They were amazing! Kudos to the casting director and director on 'finally doing it right'.
Chicago film critic Roger Ebert wrote recently that he didn't want to hear
about any critic's opinions regarding this movie, if the critic did not have
a dog themselves while growing up. I can see why he said that-- the amazing
grace of love, loyalty, and even evolution that only animal lovers can know
is amply and magnificently portrayed in "My Dog Skip."
To answer Roger Ebert on another point-- he said that it seems unlikely that a 9 or 10 year old boy would volunteer to have his dog shipped off to the army, and thus off to war (the movie takes place during world war two). Bless his heart-- his love of life and his fond memories of his own dependence on his own dog (etc.) probably prompted him to make that calculation. After all, these are the safe and comfy modern times of middle age. But as I watched the movie, I totally bought that behavior-- thinking that such a devoted boy during those times would have taken his beloved dog friend down to enlist in the war for the same reason millions of boys all over the world happily trotted themselves down to the various countries' recruiting stations-- he had no idea of what it really meant. It was romantic, "patriotic," and heroic, in a simplified, child-like way. But he had no conception of what it really meant, nor of pain of the ensuing separation, death, etc. So as it was, I say sure-- a boy could have volunteered his own dog to be a "Yankee Doodle Doggie."
But wait! The movie is also really good in addition to that. I had dogs growing up, and cats now (they have seen me through graduate school), and I can relate to the "pets as friends" vibe. I'm also a sucker for kids' movies, too, especially ones involving animals (in my view, for example, the movie "Milo & Otis," and the PBS television series "Wishbone" are a genuine masterpieces that should appeal to anyone of any age). This comes from years of toting children to every type of kid movie since the 1970s. So perhaps I am predisposed to liking "My Dog Skip," with or without other merits.
I submit to you, however, that it has many merits. It is multi-merited. I give it an enthusiastic "10."
Well more than a few in the studio executive mansion
have egg on their faces for not giving more exposure
and pub. to what will become a minor classic.
Clearly, one can not in this age of almost universal Internet keep a good movie down. Most especially one with such a wide appeal. The first really enjoyably good film of the double 00.
My Dog Skip is a very good, wholesome, family movie. It was funny and very
entertaining. Even though I had a few lines in this movie, I still felt
that it was very good.
* Two Thumbs Up!! *
Willie Morris, an American author and Harpers Magazine editor, died in 1999, the same year this film was released. The film was dedicated to him. It seems therefore that he did not live to see it, despite it being based on the book he wrote about his childhood memories with his dog Skip. Morris (1934-1999) came from Jackson, Mississippi, and wrote two books of childhood memoirs, MY DOG SKIP and GOOD OLD BOY: A DELTA BOYHOOD. The 'Delta' referred to is the Mississippi Delta, a region made internationally famous by the classic novel by Eudora Welty, DELTA WEDDING, which is one of the greatest works of fiction ever to come out of the American Deep South. The film itself is transposed to Yazoo, Mississippi, for some reason, and some characters are changed or invented. The main theme of this story is of a lonely boy whose best friend becomes his dog. But it is interwoven with many simultaneous adult and childhood events and tragedies, so that a rich texture of life in the town is evoked and portrayed. It is very true to the pattern of small Southern towns as they used to be, with a boy's dog becoming a well-known member of the community who could be greeted heartily on the street as he trotted along. In this film, perfectly accurately, we see townspeople greeting Skip as he passes them, or saying: 'There goes Willie's dog Skip,' as if they were speaking of a person. There is one hilarious scene where Willie and his mother put Skip at the wheel of their car and the mother drives the car down Main Street while lying out of sight on the seat, so that everyone gasps with astonishment at the sight of seeing a terrier drive a car. Skip keeps his eyes on the road and the wheel and does not look to right nor left. Such things were common occurrences in such towns back in those days, and right up until the 1960s. After that, the small towns all over America were gutted by shopping malls, spreading suburban blight, and above all by the interstate highway system. All the small communities were destroyed overnight, and so stories like this one are now of archaeological interest. I grew up in a small Southern town and my dog, who was my best friend, was known by most of the people in the town and greeted in the street as if she were a person, exactly as shown in this film. Furthermore, my adult friend Sarah V. Thacker used to drive up and down Main Street with her pet pig sitting up on the front seat beside her. All of these things are absolutely what happened back then, but are as inconceivable now as if 1000 years had passed rather than just 50 years. Being a child when there was no meaningful TV, no internet, no cell phones, in an isolated small town full of colourful characters, and where you could wander round at any time of day or night with your dog, where no one ever locked his house or his car and not a single burglary or theft had occurred in more than 100 years, was in many ways delightful. All the nostalgia for such small town life is justified. I say that for the younger people who have never experienced it and cannot possibly imagine it. It was also a time before drugs, and before the mass commercialization of sex. In fact, it was quite literally a time of innocence. There were no murders, no rapes, no muggings, no burglaries, no car thefts, no school shootings, no drug addicts, and no one ever worried about a little child wandering around the town at any hour because nothing could possibly happen to him other than maybe tripping in the dark and hurting his knee. This vanished world, set in the 1940s and hence before my own time, is miraculously recreated in this film. The casting is superb. The little boy Frankie Muniz plays Willie Morris with perfect charm, and is just right. Luke Wilson is excellent as the student sports hero Dink Jenkins who lives next door. (My student sports hero was named Kermit Lance (who alas died young), who treated me with the same gentle and friendly consideration shown here by Dink.) Kevin Bacon is excellent as the tormented father who has lost his leg in battle, and Diane Lane is just as good as his mother. Caitlin Wachs is perfect as 'the prettiest little girl in town' who becomes sweet on Willie. The other kids are excellent. There are some excellent performances by the minor characters who, being black, are relegated to the background of the story because they lived in a different part of town in those days of racial segregation. One is the young actor Nathaniel Lee Jr. Another whose name I don't know played the man who worked in the grocery store and gave slices of 'baloney' to Skip. The black inhabitants of the small Southern towns were important figures in its composition in those days, but were as confined to their social circles in their private lives as many of the immigrant Hispanics and Muslims are today. The segregation was not entirely forced, for there is always a tendency for any minority to prefer a ghettoized social life, as we see today more than ever. At one point in the film we see a film being screened and catch a glimpse of the black children being confined to the balcony while the white children sit in the stalls below. In another scene we see the black people filing up the fire escape stairs at the side of the cinema to enter the balcony. These segregation details are not highlighted in the film at all, but are there for the sake of social accuracy. How well I remember the ridiculous four rest rooms in every bus station!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"My Dog Skip" is pretty feisty.
Although Hollywood has hyperbolized this autobiographical account of late author Willie Morris' youth in Yazoo City in the summer of 1942 and the canine who changed his life, "My Dog Skip" measures up as an endearing, tail-wagging, Alpo epic aimed more at nostalgia-minded adults than adolescents. This pretentious but picturesque parable about a pooch (albeit one with more pedigree than most) and his famous young master strives for the poignancy of "To Kill A Mockingbird: but lacks the complexity of the Harper Lee classic. "Mockingbird" explored racism, while "Skip" only nods at it. Nevertheless, sophomore director Jay Russell has freshman scribe Gail Gilchriest have spun a superficial but entertaining saga about a boy and his dog that quenches your emotions without insulting your intelligence.
Life for nine-year old Willie Morris (Frankie Muniz of TV's "Malcolm in the Middle") is no picnic. Not only is Willie small for his age, but he also doesn't fit in with everybody else. Being different at his age poses huge problems. Willie prefers reading rather than romping around with a football, so the school bullies regularly prey on him. They corner him after class, knock his books out of his arms, rip up a letter,and call him names. Willie's next door neighbor, Dink Jenkins (Luke Wilson of "Home Fries"),the most celebrated jock in Yazoo City, becomes his friend. The bullies cannot understand why Dink pays Willie any attention. When Dink enlists in the U.S. Army for duty overseas in Europe, Willie is saddened because he is losing his only friend.
Although his father loves him, Jake Morris (Kevin Bacon of "Sleepers") is so embittered by the loss of a leg in the Spanish Civil War that he doesn't give Willie much room to frolic. Ironically, Jack tries to shield Willie from the pain of life as he struggles to deal with his own loss. Meanwhile, Willie's resourceful mom, Ellen (Diane Lane of "Untraceable"), awakens the Tom Sawyer in her son. She gives Willie a puppy for his ninth birthday. Jack hates the idea. "Dogs are just a heartbreak waiting to happen," he insists. Willie's heart will break, he fears, if anything tragic happens to the animal. Despite Jack's objections, Ellen puts her foot down. Willie gets to keep the puppy!
Skip becomes Willie's best friend. Willie's circle of friends widens. Eventually, the school bullies accept him, especially after Willie spends a stormy night in a spooky graveyard without turning chickening out. This is where Skip and Willie run afoul of two scummy bootleggers. Skip acts as matchmaker, too. He arranges Willie's first date with sweet little Rivers Applewhite(Caitlin Wachs of "Thirteen Days"). They go to a movie and share popcorn with Skip. As Willie's confidence swells, he takes Skip for granted. At a baseball field, where Willie is playing finally instead of watching, Skip delays the game. An enraged Willie clobbers him, and Skip skedaddles. Later, pair of villainous bootleggers traps Skip, beat him with a shovel, and leave him for dead.
"My Dog Skip" unfolds as a fairly ordinary sequence of vignettes which feature either Willie undergoing his rites of passage or the mischievous Skip in an adventure of his own. For example, when Jack and Skip are collecting blackberries, they cross paths with a couple of hunters. Willie watches as a deer dies from a rifle shot. He touches the blood with his fingers and examines the blood as the animal takes its dying gasps of air. Russell and Gilchriest have taken a formulaic plot and embroidered it with several ironic lessons about life. Luke Wilson's ill-fated jock, Dink Jenkins, serves as a contrivance to show that not all cowards are alike, especially when they hail from championship stock.
Frankie Muniz refuses to be upstaged by the six adorable Jack Russell terriers alternating in the lead role. Two of them, Moose and Enzo, appear on NBC-TV's "Frasier." Luke ("Blue Streak") Wilson rounds out a sympathetic cast as Willie's next door neighbor who fights the Nazis and experiences the horrors of combat and the shame of cowardice. Ken Bacon brings surprising depth and compassion to what essentially constitutes a cameo as Willie's wounded father. Jack Morris displays a dour Hemingway quality. Although he won a medal for losing his leg in the war, Jack assures Willie,"I'd rather have the leg."
Only kids that have not been weaned on Ritalin, PlayStation, and MTV will appreciate this tear-jerking tale about a terrier with its refreshingly authentic depiction of rural Mississippi. "My Dog Skip" shuns the slobbering slapstick of "Beethoven" for the heartfelt sincerity of "Old Yeller." Above all, despite his scene-stealing antics, Skip balks at performing far-fetched feats of the Rin-Tin-Tin variety! Willie Morris saw "My Dog Skip" three days before he died of a heart attack at age 64 and gave the movie his blessing.
Thank goodness the people who made this film never got their hands on Harper
Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird."
Willie Morris wrote a wonderful book about growing up in a small town in Mississippi. Skip charmed the reader just as he had charmed the people in Yazoo City. And, oh my! how neat it would have been to have had friends like Spit McGee and Henjie and Muttonhead and Rivers, when we were growing up!
Unfortunately some Hollywood writer decided he could do a better job than Willie Morris and re-wrote most of the story. What we ended up with was a cliche story about bullies, stern fathers, bad guys, and injured animals. I'm surprised they didn't decide to turn Skip into a Lassie-look-alike collie.
What is fortunate is that enough of Morris managed to seep through to make the film entertaining and worth seeing. But it deserved better.
Although this film has little or nothing to do with the art of caring for dogs and training them to do tricks (my original reason for watching the video), I thought it was great! Kevin Bacon's character was so uplifting in an offbeat way Not giving My Dog Skip ten stars would be like saying Citizen Kane was good!!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My Dog Skip (2000): Dir: Jay Russell / Cast: Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon, Luke Wilson, Diane Lane, Clint Howard: Family film about how a pet can teach children values in life. It teaches friendship, responsibility and the unavoidable awareness of death. It isn't for young children due to adult issues. It regards a dog Skip given to a boy on his birthday. Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane play his parents. Bacon received a Purple Heart having lost his leg in the war. Luke Wilson is cast as a football player called off to war and the impact it has on him when he returns. Fine setup becomes disjointed with an ending that may be too depressing for its intended audience. Directed by Jay Russell as a homage to Old Yeller and that is not a compliment. He details the relationships to render realism. Frankie Muniz as Skip's owner with great enthusiasm and energy. Bacon plays off the insecurity resulting in a war injury. Lane plays his wife who brings Skip home without prior approval. Wilson realizes that despite failures that Muniz still believes in him. Clint Howard makes an appearance as one of the villains that enter in an unnecessary subplot. This turns out very much as expected with a stern message in tact. Well crafted film that doesn't always work but it conveys a strong message regarding life and important things we overlook. This film should not be one of them. Score: 6 ½ / 10
|Page 8 of 15:||            |
|External reviews||Parents Guide||Official site|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|