My Dog Skip (film)
|My Dog Skip|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jay Russell|
|Produced by||Mark Johnson
John Lee Hancock
|Written by||Gail Gilchriest|
|Story by||Willie Morris|
|Based on||My Dog Skip
by Willie Morris
|Music by||William Ross|
|Cinematography||James L. Carter|
|Edited by||Harvey Rosenstock
MDS Productions LLC
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
My Dog Skip is a 2000 family drama film, directed by Jay Russell and starring Frankie Muniz, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson, and Kevin Bacon with narration by Harry Connick, Jr. Based on the autobiographical novel of the same name, the film stars Muniz as 9-year-old Willie Morris as he is given a Jack Russell terrier for his birthday, and how the dog fundamentally changes several aspects of his life. My Dog Skip was released on March 3, 2000, by Warner Bros., receiving generally positive reviews from critics. The film earned $35,547,761 on a $4.5 million budget.
Willie Morris as an adult is looking back on his childhood in the early 1940s and how it was colored by his dearly beloved dog, a Jack Russell Terrier whom he had named Skipper (Layla). In the beginning, Willie (Frankie Muniz) is a lonely 9-year old child with a gruff, proud father (Kevin Bacon), a Spanish Civil War veteran, and a charismatic, talkative mother (Diane Lane), a housewife, but he is an only child and small for his age with few friends. His one companion is a young man who lives next door, Dink Jenkins (Luke Wilson), who is the local sports hero in Mississippi. However, when Dink is drafted to go to war, Willie's mother decides to buy him a dog, against his father's wishes, in order that he should have some company.
Willie and Skipper become firm friends very quickly. However, Willie gets bullied at school by Big Boy Wilkinson, Henjie Henick, and Spit McGee, until Dink sends him a German helmet and belt from the front line. The other boys demand he play ball in order to win back his belongings. Skipper leaps in to help him. That same day, the three boys talk Willie into spending the night in a graveyard, where they claim a witch is buried. If he stays there, he gets to join their gang and also keep the ball Dink Jenkins signed for them, and if not, he has to give them his German helmet. Willie stays there for a number of hours, until he hears two moonshiners who are loading crates into a crypt. Skipper jumps on Millard, one the moonshiners, until the second one, Junior, comes at her with a spade. Willie uses a slingshot to hit Junior in the nose with an acorn and attempts to escape the graveyard with Skipper. They are soon captured by Junior. He tells Willie not to move before sunrise or he will kill Skipper. Then the two men leave. The three boys return in the morning and accept Willie into their group for spending the night in the graveyard.
The narrator then goes on to explain various changes in his life. Skipper, having always been a friendly dog, is known by everyone in the town, including black people, significant because Mississippi was still segregated at the time. Skipper leads Willie through the best parts of his life; his boyhood days. Thanks to Skipper, Willie now has three friends, and a girlfriend, Rivers Ginny Grey.
Skipper is there for him when Dink gets home, shell-shocked and a drunkard since discharged from the army. However, when Willie’s first ball game comes along, Skipper and Willie have their first falling out.
Dink promised to come along but does not bother. Since the war he has found competitions do not matter to him anymore, and Willie is so upset by this that his game is ruined. Skipper, wanting to cheer him up, runs onto the field and sits wagging her tail, refusing to leave. Becoming increasingly frustrated, Willie hits her across the muzzle and she runs away.
After the game, a devastated and tearful Willie is unable to find his dog. Unbeknownst to him, Skipper had returned to the crypt, and been accidentally shut in the grave where moonshine alcohol was being stored. Dink, however, after explaining that he had been scarred by having to kill in the war, tells Willie nothing is ever lost for good and goes out to help him find Skipper. As Willie searches in the graveyard, he hears Skipper's barks, and can see that Junior is about to strike Skipper with a spade. He runs to save her, but there is a thump and a whimper. Dink arrives, and manages to eject the two moonshiners, telling Junior that he'd better hope that Skipper lives, but it is uncertain as to whether Skipper will survive.
As the family and friends gather in solemnity in the vet's waiting room, Willie weeps over his dog’s vet bed, telling him everything he ever should have done; that he will never have a true friend more dear like him again. Skipper awakens, licking his hands and face.
The film concludes with Willie explaining his friendship with Skipper, that he had been an only child and Skipper an only dog. When Willie leaves to go to Oxford University in the United Kingdom, Skipper remains with Willie's parents, sleeping in Willie's old room, and finally dies, being buried under the elm tree. The closing line adds, "That wasn't totally true. For she really laid buried...in my heart".
- Frankie Muniz as Willie Morris
- Diane Lane as Ellen Morris
- Luke Wilson as Dink Jenkins
- Kevin Bacon as Jack Morris
- Bradley Coryell as Big Boy Wilkinson
- Daylan Honeycutt as Henjie Henick
- Cody Linley as Spit McGee
- Caitlin Wachs as Rivers Applewhite
- Harry Connick, Jr. as the Narrator
- Peter Crombie as Junior Smalls
- Clint Howard as Millard
- Mark Beech as Army Buddy
- Susan Carol Davis as Mrs. Jenkins
- David Pickens as Mr. Jenkins
- Lucile Doan Ewing as Aunt Maggie
- Nathaniel Lee, Jr. as Sammy
- James Thweat as Older Big Boy
- Ginny as second puppy Skipper
- Layla as old Skipper
- Sweetie as first puppy Skipper
The film opened at #3, grossing $7 million. It ended up grossing $35,512,760 worldwide, making it a major box office success recouping its $4.5 million budget. It also was Warner Bros. first majorly successful family film since Space Jam in 1996. The film came in at number 4 of Variety's "dollar for dollar" most profitable films of the year 2000. The movie remained in Variety's Top Ten video sales charts for five months after its video release. My Dog Skip won the Broadcast Film Critics Award for "Best Family Film" for the year 2000, Silver Medal Giffoni Film Festival Award, Best Cast Young Star Awards, Silver Angel Award winner, ArkTrust Genesis Award, and the Christopher Award for Best Family Film. It was filmed in the city of Canton, Mississippi; the local visitor's center offers tours showing memorabilia used in the film. A few blocks away from this museum is the house used in the film (private), with a sign in front saying "Skip's House". Movie Room Reviews gave the film 4 stars and said "The film made to delight animal lovers, children, and grandparents". The author of the book, Willie Morris, suffered from a heart attack right after the film was completed in 1999. Morris saw a preliminary screening of the film in New York and praised it as "an absolute classic". Morris died a couple of days later and never saw the final version. The film is dedicated to his memory.
- Angel Awards 2001
|Silver Angel||Feature Film||Nominated|
- Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 2001
|Critics Choice Award||Best Family Film||Won|
- Christopher Awards 2000
|Christopher Award||Feature Film||Jay Russell (director) and Alcon Entertainment (production company)||Won|
- Giffoni Film Festival 2000
|Bronze Gryphon and Silver Gryphon||Free to Fly Section - Best Actor and Free to Fly Section||Frankie Muniz and Jay Russell||Won|
- Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards 2000
|Sierra Award||Youth in Film||Frankie Muniz||Nominated|
- YoungStar Awards 2000
|YoungStar Award||Best Young Actor/Performance in a Motion Picture Drama||Frankie Muniz||Nominated|
- Young Artist Awards 2001
|Young Artist Award||Best Ensemble in a Feature Film and Best Family Feature Film - Drama||Frankie Muniz, Cody Linley, Bradley Coryell, Daylan Honeycutt and Caitlin Wachs||Won|
|Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actress||Caitlin Wachs||Nominated|
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