Friday, June 5, 2009

My Dog Skip

Man's best friend. We all know who that is! There's nothing quite like the joy that comes from raising and bonding with a treasured pet. This month, we will examine the concept of friendship - starting with our film of the month, My Dog Skip. This is the story of a boy named Willie (Frankie Muniz) and his best friend in the whole world.

STATS
Year: 2000 (Rated PG)
Directed by Jay Russell, based on the novel by Willie Morris.
Starring Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane, and Luke Wilson.
Setting: Mississippi, World War II era.

Content warning: Mild profanity and a few uses of the Lord's name in vain by the "villains". There are also some uses of words I personally find offensive, as well as some mild violence. This may appear to be a children's story on the surface, but once you are into it, you will discover it is actually a very mature film that takes a profound look at the topics of friendship, war, death, change, and racism. It is a very emotional film - I was an eyewitness to a grown man, 6'2", 230 lbs., bursting into tears while watching this movie. Be forewarned!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
1. The extraordinary and profound mystery that is friendship. Even if the friendship in this film is between a boy and a dog, the relationship between Skip and Willie demonstrates that unconditional love overlooks a multitude of shortcomings, real or perceived, and even those prescribed by society. Our friends provide the support we need when life is tough, but they are also there to partake in our joys. They give us the confidence we need to carry on through each day.

2. Poignant scenes surrounding death. One scene in particular involves a deer hunt, immediately followed by Willie's narrative about the changing seasons in Willie's life. We all should reflect upon the seasons of life as reminders of all the beauty that surrounds us.

3. Role models. Children look up to their older counterparts and aspire so much to be like them. Titus 2 describes the importance of these older/younger relationships. But even our childhood heroes are subject to fall into seasons of despair. We often feel confused when someone who once appeared so strong suddenly shows signs of weakness.

4. Not-so-subtle messages about racism. The film is set in the segregated town of Yazoo, Mississippi in 1942. The racial hypocrisy is clear: Dink Jenkins goes off to fight World War II, but back on the home front, there is still so much animosity toward people for the color of their skin. But Willie reminds us that Skip is colorblind, as most dogs are. And he's so much smarter than people.

5. A Canine Christ Figure. Skip essentially makes a new creature out of Willie. He teaches him about life and death, forgiveness and repentance, joy and sorrow. Willie denies Skip and experiences true repentance when he thinks he's lost the dog for good. But Skip has a "resurrection" of sorts. And he forever lives in Willie's heart.

TRIVIA
This is based on the true story of American writer Willie Morris and his dog, Skip.

You can visit the official website by clicking here.

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