My Dog Skip
by Del Harvey
One of those rare films that becomes an instant classic.
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Frankie Muniz (Malcolm In The Middle) narrates the story of his childhood and the lasting impact of a special friend, his dog Skip. The same pup who plays “Eddie” on Frasier, Skip is unique amongst canines, as any pet is to the owner who loves them. Skip is right there as Muniz meets his first love, right there when Muniz tangles with the local bullies, and he’s there when Muniz learns some of life’s most valuable, and painful, lessons.
Directed by Jay Russell (Tuck Everlasting), My Dog Skip is one of those animal stories that you saw as a child and it stuck with you as you grew up, as familiar and reliable as Skip himself. Diane Lane and Kevin Bacon play Muniz’ parents, and they are superb. You wish yours were like them. Luke Wilson plays the local college star athlete who happens to live next door to Muniz and serves as brother figure and role model to the boy.
The setting is World War II, and is told from the perspective of Muniz, in the person of Willie Morris, author of the original book. It is a delight that the filmmakers retained the feel of the period, which serves the nostalgic subconscious to immediately think of “better times,” whether that myth be true or not.
Muniz does a fine job of capturing the character as written by Morris, and takes on that rare “everyman” persona which makes his exploits as he passes to a young man all that much more relevant. Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane turn in their usual fine performances, helping create the image and impression of a typical family living with some unusual circumstances, but holding their heads up high through the very worst life has to offer. Luke Wilson is barely recognizable, he is so young, but he also does a fine job as the adopted role model with a dark secret.
Adapted for the screen by Gail Gilchriest, the film becomes an instant classic of a quality similar to The Christmas Story and Anne of Green Gables. A perfect story for children and adults alike, My Dog Skip succeeds in tugging at the heart. There wasn’t a dry eye in my living room by the film’s end. And each of us were thinking the same thing; that every child should have a dog like Skip.
Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly. He currently lives in Southern California, is a devout Chicago Bears fan, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College for giggles.
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