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BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

Itís a Hollywood axiom that a kid or a dog will upstage even the best performance. All the same, Cicely Tyson (a near-blind recluse), Eva Marie Saint (a lonely librarian), Jeff Daniels (the dad), and rocker Dave Matthews (a mentally challenged drifter) try their darndest to compete with the antics of Annasophia Robb as Opal and the uncredited star who plays the mutt Opal names after the supermarket where she found him. Dirty, smelly, and destructive, Winn-Dixie is no favorite of the owner of the trailer park where Opal lives with her lonely dad (Daniels), who she refers to in saccharine voiceover as "The Preacher." But the dog is new-kid-in-town Opalís only friend, and his antics have a way of helping peopleís lives get better. Opalís mother left home long ago, and her fatherís poorly paid clergy job keeps them on the move, so of course they will bond over this troublesome pooch, who also helps Opal win over the townís oddballs. Director Wayne Wang has made a sappy, predictable film, and Miss Robbís performance grates on the nerves. But there are some bright spots, as when Dave Matthewsís Otis softly sings a song to Opal and soothes the savage breast of every critter in the pet shop. Itís silly but sublime, like most movies about dogs who donít speak in human voices. (106 minutes)

BY PEG ALOI

Issue Date: February 18 - 24, 2005
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