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My Dog Skip

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
My Dog Skip Movie Poster Image
Great boy-and-dog tale, but be prepared for tears.
  • PG
  • 2011
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages


Emphasizes the rewarding bonds formed between a child and a pet, as well as the responsibility that comes with being a pet owner. Characters learn from their mistakes, change for the better, and develop lasting relationships even during difficult times. In one poignant scene, a returning soldier reveals that he ran from battle not because he was afraid of dying, but because he could not participate in killing.


Positive Role Models & Representations


Willie is a bright, caring, responsible 9-year-old. In one scene, the frustrated boy makes a terrible mistake; he pays for it, and learns a valuable lesson. Willie's parents are loving, supportive, and loyal; his mom stands up strongly for him, and his dad, though strict, proves to have his son's best interest at heart. Set during World War II in Mississippi, the young hero befriends the African-American people in his small town.




Early in My Dog Skip, school bullies relentlessly torment Willie, push him down, throw things at him, call him names. Moonshiners push Willie and Skip around, threaten them, and ultimately hurt the dog. The scenes that show violence against animals are real and cruel, and have more impact on young viewers than the exaggerated cartoon action they're accustomed to. A deer, bleeding and dying from a hunter's gunshot, falls to the ground. Skip, the dog, is hit twice, once with a shovel, after which he nearly dies from his injuries. Willie's dad, a war veteran, limps and has a prosthesis, which is briefly seen.




Some insults: "sissy," "titty baby," "ass,"" "stick it up your big fat butt," "kraut" (for German). A brief discussion about how a puppy's "testicle has not descended." It's 1942; African-Americans are identified as "colored."




Old signs for Coca Cola and Texaco appear throughout. Tampa Nugget Cigars are visible.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking


A World War II soldier returns home, shattered by his experience, and drinks excessively for a time.




What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My Dog Skip is a nostalgic "boy-and-his-dog" movie, inspired by a true story, that contains a number of violent and/or sad scenes that show animal abuse, some physical and mental repercussions of war, and the death of a beloved pet. Even when the ugly incidents take place off-camera, the sounds and implication may be disturbing. Both the boy and the dog are in danger several times, enduring taunting insults and threats from bullies and cruel moonshiners. There's some offensive language ("ass") and insults ("sissy"), and one character has a drinking problem.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 8 year old Written bykordekshop August 2, 2009

Not for sensitive children

My girls were too sensitive with regards to what happens to Skip. The could not stop crying at the end and are now wary of these type movies. I guess kind of... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 year old Written byOregon mom June 6, 2009

Good movie, but the dog dies

I really liked this movie and it kept my 7 year old engaged. However, he cried when the dog got lost and then again at the end when he died of old age (why is... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 11, 2014
Kid, 10 years old March 14, 2010

What's the story?

Based on the memoir of Willie Morris, who grew up in 1940s Mississippi in a small, sleepy town, MY DOG SKIP centers on bookish outsider Willie (Frankie Muniz), who doesn't have a single friend to invite to his 9th birthday party. But one of his birthday presents is a puppy he names Skip, who becomes his best a friend. Willie's mother (Diane Lane) gives him Skip over the objections of his stern and overbearing father (Kevin Bacon). Skip is a good listener and a loyal companion who helps Willie develop confidence and make friends with other boys and with the prettiest girl in school. Willie grows up in the segregated South, but Skip makes friends without regard to color, and takes Willie along. Willie learns about the world with Skip. He learns about himself, too. Angry and embarrassed at his poor performance in a baseball game, he hits Skip, who runs away, devastating Willie. Taking responsibility for his behavior and facing the consequences start him on the road to his adult self.

Is it any good?

My Dog Skip is a good, old-fashioned boy-and-his-dog movie that is lyrical and very touching, with many important issues for family discussion. One of the most interesting scenes in the movie for older kids is the parents' debate. Willie's mother says, "He is a responsible boy who needs a friend." His father says that pets are "just a heartbreak waiting to happen." Having lost his leg -- and much of his sense of hope about life -- in a war, he wants to protect Willie from loss as long as he can. But Mrs. Morris knows that loss is the price we pay for caring, and that what we gain from caring -- and from loss -- is well worth it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about loss. How do the characters deal with loss in their lives? Is it better to love and then experience the grief that comes with loss, or to never love and never experience loss? Have you experienced any major losses in your life? How did you deal with it?

  • Families can also talk about the historical elements in the movie, including ration books, scrap drives, segregation, moonshine, etc. What's different about life in America now? 

  • What makes bullies behave the way they do? Have you ever been bullied or stood up for someone being bullied? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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