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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.