My Dog Skip
My Dog Skip
Directed: Jay Russell
Genre: Coming of Age, Drama
A shy boy is unable to make friends in Yazoo City, Mississippi in 1942, until his parents give him a terrier puppy for his ninth birthday. The dog, which he names Skip, becomes well known and loved throughout the community and enriches the life of the boy, Willie, as he grows into manhood. Based on the best-selling Mississippi memoir by the late Willie Morris.
Movie ReviewsComing of age does indeed seem more poignant, and the moral lessons learned more pointed, when your best friend is coming of age seven times as fast and is almost certain to give up the ghost before you. The film opens in an elegiac mode, and its most effective moments convey the sense of simultaneous gain and loss that love, canine or human, can bring, not least in the corridors of memory.
But it’s not clear what kind of an audience the film is targeting: it’s definitely not appropriate for younger children, who will find the darker issues tackled (segregation, war, alcoholism, bullying, cruelty to animals) overwhelming, especially since none are patiently or coherently explored. For adults, the human characters seem flat, in a uniform manner suggesting directorial choice rather than weak acting.
The cast does their best with what little the script gives them — especially Kevin Bacon, who, as Willie’s stolid, undemonstrative father, portrays a man emotionally damaged but not entirely beyond repair. As Willie, Frankie Muniz (star of Malcolm in the Middle, here distinctly younger) gives a strong performance when not mugging for the camera. The film also features Luke Wilson, marginalizes Diane Lane, and stars the remarkable Moose from Frasier, the most talented thespian ever to be rescued from the pound.