Because Of Winn-Dixie

"OK"

Because Of Winn-Dixie Review


Because of Winn-Dixie, the latest effort from director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club, Smoke), is about a special dog who makes a difference in a child's life. It's about small towns and the secrets they hide. It's about 110 minutes of well-meaning, benign unoriginality.

Based on Kate DiCamillo's novel, the movie takes place in sleepy Naomi, FL, population 2,524. Ten-year-old Opal (the precocious AnnaSophia Robb) has moved here with her dad (Jeff Daniels), the town's new preacher. While her father adjusts to a set of challenges -- including preaching in a half-empty convenience store -- Opal has her own: She has no friends and no mother to help cope with her loneliness. Opal's rapport with her father is shaky at best, and it represents the movie's most effective plotline.

Opal's life improves during a trip to the Winn-Dixie supermarket. As she roams the aisles, a dog bolts into the store. When the staff finally catches the mangy mutt, Opal, seeing an opportunity, declares ownership. Though nearly everyone who matters in her life is against the dog, which Opal names Winn-Dixie, she keeps him for the summer.

That summer might be special for Opal -- she meets the kindly old librarian (Eva Marie Saint) and an old woman her playmates deem a witch (Cicely Tyson, borrowing Macy Gray's hair) -- but she lives through a rehash of classic Southern literature and the countless movies spawned by those books. Each friend Opal makes harbors a secret, a long overused theme of Southern literature. Throw in the "dog who changed my life" angle, and Because of Winn-Dixie is My Dog Skip meets To Kill a Mockingbird (young girl's journey of self-discovery), minus their charisma and originality.

Wang apparently thinks nobody has ever seen a movie set in a small Southern town, so he bombards us with shots of darkened country roads, quaint stores, old cars, open fields, and elm trees. Because of Winn-Dixie plays like a highlight reel of country fried clichés, stressing the plot's unoriginality, and showing how desperately Wang wants to conjure a small-town atmosphere. I could see taking advantage of all the scenery if the movie took place in 1955, but it is set in the present day. You mean to tell me there isn't a McDonald's anywhere?

The uneasiness goes beyond atmosphere, as Wang and screenwriter Joan Singleton can't decide on what to offer: a growin'-up drama or a cuddly family comedy featuring a wonderful dog, and their indecision results in a jarring, persistent identity crisis. The amount of dialogue is also a hurdle. Every character has a story to tell, and those tales of sorrow and secrets hobble the movie. Saint's librarian tells one to Opal about the town's old candy factory that besides feeling out of place is drenched with symbolic hogwash that the average 10-year-old could never understand.

Because of Winn-Dixie's popularity -- as of this review's posting it was number 3 at the box office -- confuses me. It's too talky for kids to appreciate, and the material is so overused that most adults will be bored. The lesson: we should never underestimate the power of cute animals, or familiarity.

The DVD includes some commentary from Rabb, a feature-length track from Daniels and producer Trevor Albert, plus a gag reel and a making-of featurette.



Because Of Winn-Dixie

Facts and Figures

Run time: 106 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th February 2005

Box Office USA: $32.6M

Box Office Worldwide: $32.6M

Budget: $14M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 64 Rotten: 55

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Preacher, as Opal, as Gloria Dump, as Miss Franny, as Otis, as Amanda Wilkenson, as Sweety Pie Thomas, Luke Benward as Stevie Dewberry, Nick Price as Dunlap Dewberry, B.J. Hopper as Mr. Alfred, Marca Price as Mrs. Dewberry, Lenore Banks as Mrs. Detweller, John McConnell as Store Manager, as Policeman, William Arthur Pitts as Churchgoer 1

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.