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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.