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My Dog Skip

review by Zach B.

 

Rated PG

Studio: Warner

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 on DVD.

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 final score)

(5/5)

(3.5/5)

(2/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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