My Dog Skip
One of my least favorite scenes in all of cinema is that one in "Terms of Endearment" when Debra Winger's wickedly cute offspring come into her room at the hospital as she's dying from cancer and start bawling. Tears started streaming down my face. I was like sixteen at the time. Then I asked myself: "Why?" Then I thought harder. Some manipulative filmmakers have taken a dying woman, brought in the two cutest kids they could find, and made them cry. Why didn't James Brooks just come over to my house and strangle my new puppy? That day, my dear friends, Master Cranky became Mr. Cranky. I became a man.
"My Dog Skip" strangles the puppy, so to speak -- and no, there's no scene of little Frankie ("Malcolm in the Middle") Muniz discovering the wonders of masturbation. This film is about a dog and eventually the filmmakers take that dog and try to kill him. There's nothing quite like watching a small animal lie on an operating table, looking up at his fictional master, representing all that's pure in the world -- that is, until you realize there's some 5'2" androgynous freak just off-screen hiding a filet in her pants thinking about what a gift from God it was that she got a dog from the pound that could look pensive and now makes more a year than an entire plant of Chinese Nike workers.
The movie is based on Willie Morris' memoir of his boyhood, which I can just about guarantee has the word "touching" printed on its cover somewhere. If the book and/or the film are indeed "touching", it's because young Willie Morris (Frankie Muniz) has no friends and is forced to turn to his dog for companionship. Who the hell had only one kid in Yazoo, Mississippi in 1942? Apparently Mr. (Kevin Bacon) and Mrs. Morris (Diane Lane) did, although one suspects that the piece of weaponry that took the elder Morris' leg off probably caught a piece of something else.
Director Jay Russell is trying desperately to celebrate the joy of a friendship between boy and dog. Unfortunately, the whole thing is just a set-up for the inevitable climax of a nearly dead dog bringing the audience to tears. Hell, I could have accomplished the same thing with lemon juice and good spray bottle.
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