Written by Joan Singleton, based on the book by Kate DiCamillo
Directed by Wayne Wang
Starring AnnaSophia Robb, Jeff Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Dave Matthews, Eva Marie Saint, Courtney Jines, Nick Price, Luke Benward and Elle Fanning
- Running audio commentary by actor Daniels and producer Trevor Albert
- Scene-specific audio commentary by actress Robb
- Gag reel
- Behind-the-scenes featurette
- “Diamond in the Ruff” dog training Featurette
Released by: Fox Home Entertainment
My Advice: Rent it first to make sure your kids will like it…
[ad#longpost]Opal (Robb) is having trouble adjusting to life in a small southern town. Her dad (Daniels) is a preacher who has moved to the town to start a church. Opal and her dad are both dealing with the fact that her mom left when she was very young. She finds a friend in a stray dog that she rescues from a trip to the pound after it nearly single-handedly destroys a Winn-Dixie supermarket. Opal claims him as her own and they begin a relationship that brings a small town closer together.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a “family” movie that is as sweet as this one. First of all, AnnaSophia Robb’s character is perfection. I’m not just talking about the writing; I’m also talking about her performance. She is a very talented little actress. Just in case you don’t know, she followed this movie up with playing Violet in the new version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Daniels plays his typical character that he does in family movies, but he’s damn good at it, so it works. Even Matthews surprised me with his performance in this role. They took advantage of the fact that he’s got a tremendous voice and can play the guitar, but he also looked right for the role. I have not read the book, so I can’t comment on the adaptation, but the story is captivating and moves along better than most family movies that I’ve seen.
The funny thing is that that my in-laws showed this one to my daughter before I had ever even heard of it. She was already a fan, so I knew this was one that I absolutely had to review.
The DVD is pretty good, even though it’s a dual-sided disc. As usual, one side contains the full-frame version and the other the widescreen version. There are special features on both sides of the disc. On the full-frame side, you have the scene-specfic commentary with Robb. There are five scenes she comments on and she spends some of her time watching what was going on in the movie and saying what was cool. I’m cutting her a lot of slack on this because of her age. Still, for the most part, she’s coherent and actually provides some insight into the making of the movie. Also on the full-frame side, you have a featurette titled “Behind-the-Scenes with Winn-Dixie.” It’s more about the dog than the movie, but there is still some stuff about the adaptation and the director makes a few comments, too. Still, it lasts no longer than ten minutes, so it’s pretty light-weight stuff.
On the widescreen side, you have the feature-length commentary with Daniels and Albert. Daniels is very committed to his work. He chooses his projects very carefully and doesn’t make the movie unless he is really connected to the material. In the commentary, he keeps his ironic sense of humor about him, but also really brings insight to the making of the movie. There is also another featurette on this side of the disc, but it’s pretty much the same as the one on the other side. In fact, some of the same comments by the cast and crew found their way into both of these featurettes. The Gag reel only lasts about two minutes and contains some pretty good stuff, but it’s not what I would call a great reel. It’s not edited well at all.
On the whole, this is a great movie and is worth at least a rental. I’m going to add it to my kids’ DVD collection. Perhaps you will, too, after watching it.