Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: AnnaSophia Robb, Jeff Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Dave Matthews
Director: Wayne Wang
This warm family film, adapted from the award winning novel by Kate DiCamillo, boasts a cast of colourful characters, a spirited community message, and an essential for every kiddie film, a cute animal!
When Opal, the young daughter of the town’s newly arrived preacher, is sent to the supermarket one day to do some grocery shopping, she finds a dog causing havoc inside. Desperate to protect the little mutt from getting into trouble, she claims the dog as her own, and names him after the supermarket chain – Winn-Dixie.
The furry companion could not have arrived at a better time in Opal’s life. Struggling to communicate with her distant father (Jeff Daniels) over her mother’s abandonment of the family, Winn-Dixie needs a home, and the lonely Opal needs a friend. Together the two begin a journey to unite a whole community of people alone with their demons, including musician Dave Matthews’ jailbird Otis, ex-alcoholic Gloria Dump (Cicely Tyson) and spinster Miss Franny (the eternally beautiful Eva Marie Saint).
The superb thing about this film is that it does not patronize kids, but successfully treats them as if they are mature enough to understand subjects ranging from loss to alcoholism. There are still touches of juvenile humour to lighten it up, whilst the cosy emotional warmth allows for delivery of an important message.