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Film review

A kid's best friend

If you loved the book about a girl and her dog, you'll love the faithful movie adaption of Because of Winn-Dixie.

Published February 17, 2005

  Special on the sugar aisle
Villainy, angst and plot are scarce in the film Because of Winn-Dixie; it may be too sweet for some palates, but a pleasant change of taste for others.

If you like movies that are filled with emotion, then Because of Winn-Dixie is just right for you.

The film, which is based on the book of the same name, packs in happiness, sorrow, joy and even relief in just a couple of hours. I think everyone in the movie cried.

It's the story of 10-year-old Opal (AnnaSophia Robb), a lonely girl who was abandoned by her mother at age 3. Opal moves with her dad, a preacher, to the fictional Florida town of Naomi.

Opal doesn't know how to make friends, how to fit into a new town, how to fit into herself. Her father (Jeff Daniels) is busy with his convenience-store-turned-church and she doesn't know anyone.

And then along comes a stray mutt who is tearing loose in a Winn-Dixie supermarket. Opal claims him as her dog so that he doesn't wind up in the pound, and names him after the store.

The dog gives Opal a new-found sense of belonging. The dog helps her explore her new town and meet people. She takes care of Winn-Dixie and, in doing so, becomes the mother she never had.

Winn-Dixie helps Opal learn lessons of acceptance, friendship and tolerance. Unconditional love from Winn-Dixie brings her and her father closer, and teaches her the meaning of home. The movie proved true to the book. The characters were as I expected, although I didn't expect to see rocker Dave Matthews as Otis, the pet store dude who befriends Opal.

I've seen a lot of movies that were taken from books, and many of them get it all wrong. Because of Winn-Dixie hits the mark: If you read the book, you'll see it in the movie. Kids will like it and parents, too.

I liked the book when I read it, but I really liked this movie. I can forget emotion I read in a book years ago, but in the movie, it's all in front of you. I'll go back and read the book again to see what I may have missed.

After the movie, I went home and played with my dog, Sophie, and told her how much she means to me. Unconditional love: we all want and need it.

Sarah Collins, 12, is in sixth grade at Palm Harbor Middle School and is a member of the Times X-Team.

[Last modified February 16, 2005, 08:32:04]

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