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Laramie Movie Scope:
My Dog Skip

Kid plus dog equals more than just a kid's movie

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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March 6, 2000 -- With a name like "My Dog Skip" you would figure this to be a sappy, shallow kids movie, but it really isn't, it is aimed just as much at adults as at kids. Part of the reason for this is that the movie is based on a book which is based on a true story. The story is told from adult hindsight, and a highly literate and intelligent hindsight at that.

The story is based on a book by the same name by the late Willie Morris, a Rhodes Scholar who went on to become the youngest editor ever at Harper's Magazine, according to the film's credits. Morris also wrote "Good Ole Boy: A Delta Boyhood" which was turned into a 1988 movie.

The movie takes us back to the early days of World War II in Yazoo, Mississippi. We see young men go off to war and sometimes come back as shattered images of their former selves. Willie's own father, Jack (well played by Kevin Bacon of "Stir of Echoes"), lost a leg in the Spanish Civil War just prior to World War II. A stern man, he tries to protect his son from the world's slings and arrows.

Willie (well-played by Frankie Muniz "Malcolm in the Middle") is an undersized, only child who is more interested in reading books than in playing football or baseball. Scorned by his classmates at school, he doesn't have a friend. Along comes Skip, a cute terrier that Willie gets for his ninth birthday. The dog, who becomes a town favorite, is more than Willie's best friend, the dog helps Willie come out of his shell and fit in with others his own age.

The story resonates on many levels besides the simplistic one I have outlined here. It speaks to the meaning of bravery, loyalty, friendship and love, simple things that are lost or forgotten in the hustle and bustle of modern life. The film also depicts the fact of racial segregation, but does not emphasize it. It also depicts the hero worship of athletes and how quickly people can turn on those same heroes.

The story is told in a straightforward, effective manner by director Jay Russell and beautifully photographed by cinematographer James L. Carter. The main characters are effectively portrayed by, Muniz, Bacon, Diane Lane of "A Walk on the Moon," as Ellen Morris, Willie's mother; Luke Wilson "Blue Streak," as Dink Jenkins, the town's best athlete; Caitlin Wachs of "Shiloh 2," as Rivers Applewhite, Willie's girlfriend. Harry Connick Jr. does a nice job of narrating the film. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2000 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)