Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)

Dog movies are a dime a dozen in Western culture, especially America. The plots are usually melodramatic coming of age stories thinly disguised through the use of “man’s best friend” as a kind of allegory or metaphor. Sometimes these tales are excellent, heartwarming experiences. Other times, however, they are mediocre hunks of coal which tried too hard; sad to say that “Because of Winn-Dixie” is from the latter category.

The plot of this thread revolves around the trials and tribulations of a young girl as she struggles being the preacher’s daughter in a new town. Alone and knowing no friends her life in the small town of Winn-Dixie is centered on making acquaintances. This premise is helped some when she unexpectedly befriends a dog while shopping one day. Begging her father to keep the animal what follows is a hashed story of drama where our young protagonist meets some of the town’s odd-balls thus discovering that everyone has their tale to tell and that life is a bit more complicated than it appears.

All of these events are promulgated by the dog (Winn-Dixie) which makes for an absurd catalyst to be sure. But the true missteps are when the clichéd happenings intermix with the generally poor acting and inane developments. The direction of the film is typical of a Walden Media production; to this end one can expect there to be lame coincidences coinciding with emotional moments (how much do you wanna bet that when it comes time for a traumatic showdown that the two belligerents are caught in a thunderstorm and when the altercation is resolved the weather magically clears up?). It is tired material not unique in any fashion.

Over all it is a pretentious movie filled with too much absurdities (smiling, ultra-smart dogs anyone?). The concept of the film never breaks out of the stale genre. Indeed it seems to be content with just existing. Like most of the kid’s films on the market this is merely another rushed out project meant to capitalize on parents’ need to place their kids in front of something which depicts “youth friendly” morals told in the most patronizing manner possible. I suppose if you are in need of such a film then this will do but other than that I would say to stay away.

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