My Dog Skip
review by Zach B.
Starring Frankie Muniz, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson, Kevin
Bacon, Clint Howard
Written by Gail Gilchriest
Based on the book by Willie Morris
Directed by Jay Russell
Retail Price: $24.99
Features: Commentary with Director Jay Russell,
Commentary with Frankie Muniz and Animal Trainer Mathilde
DeCagney, Deleted Scenes with Russell Commentary, Theatrical
Trailer, Willie Morris Biography
Specs: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Open
Matte, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1,
English Captions, French Captions, Chapter Search
Based on Willie Morris' memoir of his boyhood days, "My
Dog Skip" is a delightful film aimed at families... but I
think this movie will (and did) appeal to people of all
ages. The movie is has a lot of sweetness to it, as well as
a good mix of humor and heart.
The movie was surprisngly successful at the box office.
It opened in a few theaters during January 2000, and had a
wide release toward the start of March of 2000. I believe
the film racked in over 30 million dollars at the domestic
box office. The reviews were pretty favorable too.
Anyhow, the film is basically a whole memory piece, as we
meet a nine year old Willie Morris (Frankie Muniz). A social
intravert, young Willie spends most of his time reading and
hanging out with the teen next door, a sports star the town
adores (Luke Wilson). Willie's mother (Lane) gets him a dog
for his birthday, and though his father (Bacon) does not
accept at first, the dog becomes a member of the household.
The dog is named Skipper ("Skip" for short), and helps
Willie grow as a person. During the film, events happen
which include getting accepted by peers, a battle with
moonshiners, the neighbor going off to war and Skip training
to be a battle dog for World War II.
This is one of the best family films to come about in a
long time. The performances are flawless. Muniz is perfect
as Morris, and Kevin Bacon does a wonderful job as his
father, who's a scarred war veteran. The rest of the cast,
especially Luke Wilson, shine in their roles. The script is
really good, complete with excellent insights as well as
powerful imagery. The film has a great combo of funny
moments, dramatic tension and pure heart. While I think they
could have cut out this subplot with an African American
counterpart to Wilson's Dink which hardly went anywhere (I
think it was just for show at the end as well as other
parts. It fits with the film fine, I just don't think it
needed it), this is still a quality film.
I'll be perfectly honest with you. When I originally saw
the trailer in theaters, I thought it was some stupid Warner
Bros. kiddie film which would bomb in theaters and do well
on the home video front. I was dead wrong. This movie is not
that, but a good film for just about anyone. I had no
intention of seeing the film until my friends saw and raved
about, and was eager for the home video release.
"My Dog Skip" is a great movie, and I think this movie
will stand the test of time and become a family classic
years from now.
The video is superb. Presented in both anamorphic
widescreen and 1.33:1 open matte on the other side, "My Dog
Skip" is a near reference quality disc. The detail is
jawdropping, and the colors are very vibrant without being
oversaturated. The extra resolution in the widescreen really
helps the picture, and it has this crisp quality to it. An
excellent transfer by Warner, one of the best I've ever seen
English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are provided.
They are sufficent, at best. Surrounds aren't too powerful
or engaging, and mostly used for the music. Anyhow, it fits
fine. I'm not sure how the mix could have been any more
creative then this, so Warner has done a pretty decent job.
Dialogue is clear and there is no noise or distortion.
"My Dog Skip" has a nice selection of supplements that
anyone who purchases the disc should enjoy. Still, what
annoys me is one commentary track... you'll read later on...
The first Commentary Track is pretty good. It's
with Director Jay Russell. Russell's voice is pretty
monotonous, but anyhow, he does supply a good amount of
information on the making of the film.
The next track I don't even really consider a commentary,
and even though the box lists it as a "feature-length"
commentary, it isn't. The Commentary with Frankie Muniz
and Animal Trainer Mathilde DeCagney is a little dull,
for the most part. Well, first things first, the track only
lasts about the first thirty five minutes! While they do
discuss the making of the film and working with the dogs a
little, there is a pause and now then during the thing, and
DeCagney goes into a little of her backstory on the animal
training. It may have been a little better if it actually
lasted the whole film, but as far as things go, the comments
are a little boring.
There are a few Deleted Scenes which don't last so
long, and Russell gives his commentary while they were cut.
All that I can say for most of them is good move (I think
the peeing part would have fit in somewhere though...).
Rounding off the disc is the Theatrical Trailer
which turned me off to seeing the film (watch it and you'll
agree... they do make it seem really like child like) and a
very interesting Willie Morris Biography.
I highly reccomend this film, and is a good example how
you should never judge a book by its cover (my thing with
the trailer). The DVD has pretty good audio and really sharp
video. The extras are good (except for that commentary track
with Muniz and the animal trainer) and the price is right.
Pick this puppy (heh, pun) up!
(4/5, NOT included in
(3.5/5, NOT an average)