My Dog Skip,
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This review is from: My Dog Skip (2000) [DVD] (DVD)
A quality family movie, that will appeal to all age groups, about childhood, loyalty, friendship and love, and above all the tremendous bond between a young boy and his beloved dog. The story is based upon the memoir of Mississippi-born writer Willie Morris growing up in Yazoo during the Second World War. Willie is a lonely, withdrawn boy, helped through childhood and early adulthood by his very intelligent Jack Russell Skip. Willie is an only child, with no friends except older sporty neighbour Dink Jenkins, who is called up early in the story. Willie's mother is outgoing, but his father is a stern, embittered war veteran amputee. Willie faces some fractious classmates who waver between tormenting and befriending him.
Frankie Muniz, in his first starring role, plays young Willie with considerable charm and instinctive skill, and with such innocence, his performance is just perfection. His subtle changes in delivery and body language show Willie growing in confidence as the story progresses. Casting Willie was a huge responsibility because he is in most of the scenes. For many the real stars will be the superb acting dogs, including Enzo and Moose, who bring so much to the movie. There is a good supporting cast, including Diane Lane and Kevin Bacon as Willie's parents, Luke Wilson as Dink, and Caitlin Wachs as Willie's love interest Rivers Applewhite. I love the vibrant photography and surging orchestral score, and the copious selection of period music, with names including such jazz legends as Fats Waller and Gene Krupa featuring on the credits.
There are several amusing comedic scenes, but it's best to have the tissues handy, this is the only movie that made me weep, especially the first time I watched it several years ago. Special features include interesting commentaries by director Jay Russell, Frankie Muniz and animal trainer Mathilde de Cagney. Topics include working with the acting dogs and casting the role of Willie. The story has some differences in detail from the book.