Ty Burr
January 21, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

My Dog Skip

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
runtime
95 minutes
performer
Kevin Bacon, Frankie Muniz, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson
director
Jay Russell
distributor
Warner Bros.
author
Willie Morris
genre
Drama, Comedy

We gave it a B-

Here’s a passage from the late Willie Morris’ 1995 memoir, My Dog Skip: ”Cruising through the fringes of town, I would spot a group of old men standing around up the road. I would get Skip to prop himself against the steering wheel…while I crouched out of sight under the dashboard…. As we drove by the Blue Front Cafe, I could hear one of the men shout: ‘Look at that ol’ dog drivin’ a car!”’

The dry, humane grace of that scene is exactly what doesn’t make it into director Jay Russell’s big-screen adaptation of My Dog Skip. Instead, we get a serviceable time-passer for kids, grandparents, and poochophiles that feints toward the toughness of To Kill a Mockingbird but stays well within Hallmark-homily territory. As young Willie, Malcolm in the Middle’s Frankie Muniz looks uncomfortable without any irony to latch on to, and a subplot about the black denizens of WWII-era Yazoo, Miss., is dropped before it can threaten to develop an edge. Worst of all, the Jack Russell playing Skip is allowed to mug a la Frasier’s Eddie instead of behaving like an actual canine. Look at that ol’ dog stealin’ a movie! B- — Ty Burr

[BOX] My Dog Skip STARRING Frankie Muniz Kevin Bacon WARNER BROS. RATED PG 95 MINUTES

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