Starring: Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane, Frankie Muniz, Luke Wilson, Daylan Honeycutt
Directed by: Jay Russell
Movie Summary: [Drama]
The year is 1942. As the Allies unite overseas to keep the world safe for democracy, there are voices at home that are barely heard. One of them belongs to Willie Morris, a shy and gawky eight-year-old whose childhood is even more quiet and isolated than his home town of Yazoo, Mississippi. An only child, ignored at school and uncomfortable with girls, Willie looks up to and confides in next-door neighbor Dink Jenkins, the town's star athlete, who's preparing to ship out in the service of Uncle Sam. Willie's father, Jack Morris, a stern but good-hearted veteran who lost his leg in the Spanish Civil War, is chiefly responsible for Willie's overprotective upbringing. Pushing in the other direction is his mother, Ellen Morris, a capable woman who knows that what Willie needs most is some freedom and a friend. Willie's ninth birthday gives her an opportunity to offer him both, in the form of a Jack Russell terrier puppy that the delighted Willie names Skip. Skip's outgoing personality helps Willie to build a friendship with Rivers Applewhite, the prettiest girl in school. Skip then further serves as matchmaker for Willie and Rivers at the movie theater, and lends a paw after Willie is challenged by Big Boy Wilkinson, Henjie Henick and Spit McGee to prove his worth in a football game. With Skip's canine help, Willie starts becoming "one of the boys." Then unexpectedly, Dink returns to Yazoo. But the dark truth soon emerges: Dink, when confronted by the realities of war, went AWOL. In trying to reconcile his hero worship of the Dink he once knew with his disappointment in the disgraced soldier, Willie begins to contend with the complexities of war and human conduct. He reaches a new perspective on these matters through his father's eyes and his own. Dink fails to show up at Willie's first baseball game, and the disappointed Willie takes it out on Skip, who runs away. The dog's disappearance and subsequent recovery teach Willie the strength of forgiveness, and give Dink a chance to embrace the power of redempt lifelong lessons of the human spirit.
Widescreen (16x9) and Full frame, English and Spanish DD 5.1
Audio commentary with director Jay Russell / Audio commentary by Frankie Muniz and dog trainer Mathilde De Cagney / Deleted scenes with director commentary / Cast and Crew Bios / Theatrical trailer
s I sat down to watch this film, I didn't at all know really what to expect – short of assumptions of it being a story of sorts geared towards children. An hour and a half later and I was full of mixed emotions containing that of both a deep sadness, yet contented happiness as I had just completed a journey down Memory Lane. While the dog generally serves as 'man's best friend', there are a lot of us out there, including myself, that saw a particular dog as a 'boy's best friend' that sat and played by our side's while growing up. And it was really quite true – no matter where life's path lead us, for better or for worse, there was always one individual on the planet that remained untainted by popular opinion – and that was my dog Sally. This film is about writer William Morris' childhood dog, Skip, a companion that helped him through childhood as did mine.
The visual reproduction of this film on DVD is easily above satisfactory presenting a warm picture that captures the environment of a little out-of-the-way town catching up to the arrival of the 40's. Colors are strong, fleshtones are vibrant and there is little to no sign of artifacting. Throughout the film I had my volume set in a manner that would rock the house if this were a different sort of film. But it isn't of that sort – the majority of the time the audio output was subdued, but lively in atmospheric effect – namely the chirping of birds. Yes, the birds were happy in the little town of Yazoo during production. The frontstage presentation serves its purpose well with good clarity and separation. Only during a couple select time during the film will one's subwoofer take a breath and exert any sort of effort. The true element of sound that compliments this film is William Ross' [Contact, Forrest Gump, Lethal Weapon (uncredited), Bodyguard, Die Hard 2] magical score. It's the type of feel-good score that twists one's emotional nerves to a tee in times of excitement and moments of grief.
The DVD has a nice set of extras for a disc that is not actively labeled as a 'special edition'. The disc includes a couple of audio commentaries one of which is with 2nd time director Jay Russell [End of the Line]. The other is with actor Frankie Muniz and dog trainer Mathilde De Cagney who did a wonderful job with the two dogs that played the terrier throughout this film. Following-up the commentaries is a segment that covers a few scenes that were deleted from the final production. The scenes are accompanied by the commentary of director Jay Russell in a manner that is non-obtrusive to the content. Most deleted scenes are removed from a final print because they just outright disrupt the flow of a film. Many deleted scenes from other DVDs come to mind that simply stink. These scenes, while relatively short, are a good example of segments of a film that were up to par with the rest of the film but removed because, in this case, the director chose to eliminate a sub-plot in the film. Rounding of this short list of extras is the cast and crew section and theatrical trailer. The c&c section is limited to offering information on only one talent involved with this film … and probably the most interesting. A short summary of writer William Morris' history is all that can be accessed from this section. Having read nothing of the film prior to watching it – this tidbit of info about William Morris had me put 2 and 2 together and realize that his book and this film were based on his life as he was growing up.
My Dog Skip is a sort of youthful coming-of-age film that focuses on life's early lessons. It's likely to bring back heartbreaking memories with some of you as it did with me. Having this segment of one's life revealed in familiar retrospective allows for a sense of deeper understanding for the systematic pattern that human's lives follow … and the comfort of knowing that the sorrow of some things are for the better of others.