A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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?
Themes & Topics
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