Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"Because of Winn-Dixie" tells the story of a lonely girl with a distant father, who is adopted by a dog. The dog changes her life, helps her make her friends, and gives her someone to confide in for the first time. All without doubt sweet and warm-hearted, but there is another film with a similar story that is boundlessly better, and that is "My Dog Skip" (2000). Also with the lonely kid. Also with the dog who makes friends. Also with the dad who thinks the dog should go back to the pound.
The difference between the two films is that "My Dog Skip" is made with a complexity that appeals to adults as much as children, while "Because of Winn-Dixie" seems pretty firmly aimed at middle school and below. Its portrait of the adult world comes from storybooks, not life, and its small town is populated entirely by (1) eccentric characters, and (2) anonymous people seen from a distance.
The little girl is named Opal (AnnaSophia Robb). She is 10, and lives in a house trailer supplied rent-free to her dad, who preaches in a church that uses the corner convenience store. When Opal was 3, her mother ran away from the family for reasons unknown. Preacher (apparently his only name) has been depressed ever since, and spends long hours gazing out the window and "working on a sermon."
He sends Opal to the Winn-Dixie supermarket, and while she's there a dog runs up and down the aisles and is chased by countless clerks, who skid into piles of cans and knock over pyramids of boxes; destruction during a supermarket chase is the indoor shopping equivalent of the Fruit Cart Scene. Opal rescues the dog, claims it is hers, and names it Winn-Dixie.