In this film based on the Newbery Award-winning children's book by Kate DiCamillo Opal (AnnaSophia Robb) is a lonely 10-year-old girl who has moved to a sluggish small town in Florida with her preacher father (Jeff Daniels). She has a tough time getting through to her dad: when he is not preaching the gospel he walks around in a haze haunted by the departure of Opal's mother many years before. But when Opal adopts Winn-Dixie named after the supermarket where she found the mutt things start to brighten up for the little girl. With her special companion by her side Opal ends up meeting some pretty interesting people in the town. They include Miss Franny (Eva Marie Saint) the local spinster librarian who spins great stories; Otis (Dave Matthews) the shy drifter working at Gertrude's Pet Shop; and Gloria (Cicely Tyson) an old blind lady living with ghosts from her past. Through Opal's sunny disposition and Winn-Dixie doggone tenaciousness they help the town find their joy and their sorrow. And at the same time they mend Opal's troubled relationship with her father. Collectively now awwww!
All the players fit snugly in this warmhearted movie especially the talented young Robb who makes her feature film debut in Winn-Dixie. It's imperative to cast an adorable child and Robb doesn't disappoint keeping things genuinely fresh with the big eyes infectious smile and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm charm. Daniels too doesn't overplay it as the wounded preacher--aptly described by Opal as a turtle--who rarely sticks his head out of his shell. Veterans Eva Marie Saint and Cicely Tyson do what they can with their stereotypical parts as the kindly spinster storyteller and kindly old wise woman respectively. But it's singer-turned-actor Dave Matthews who stands out as the drifter with a troubled past but can "sing most anything " even charming the animals in the pet shop á la the Pied Piper. His poignant performance is up there in the sentiment department.
Here we go with the children and the animals again. Wayne Wang (Maid in Manhattan The Joy Luck Club) is the latest director to take a stab at guiding those most unpredictable of actors. As he explains "Sometimes the going is slow. But then suddenly something magical happens that you couldn't possibly have planned or anticipated." It's true. There are definite moments of inspired sweetness especially between Opal and Winn-Dixie played by a Picardy Shepherd a rare breed of dog from France that has the look of a big old lovable mutt. And of course you can't go too wrong using heart-tugging material based on a beloved children's novel on par with Where the Red Fern Grows and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. That's also Because of Winn-Dixie main problem. Fans of the book will certainly love the film but overall it doesn't really offer anything new in this genre. It's the same general premise about the kid and a dog--or a horse a deer whichever animal works best--who can change the lives of those around them just from being pure of heart. Maybe it's the curmudgeon in me but Winn-Dixie just doesn't stand out among the plethora of films similar to it.
On Friday, a judge sided with filmmaker Woody Allen in his lawsuit against former business partner Jean Doumanian and her boyfriend and business partner, Jacqui Safra. Allen is suing both Doumanian and Safra, claiming they cheated him out of profits on eight movies since 1993, including Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You, Deconstructing Harry and Small Time Crooks. According to The Associated Press, Justice Ira Gammerman disagreed with the defendants' position that the films were an extension of a three-picture agreement they had with Allen in computing profits. The case is scheduled to resume today.
Newspapers reported Sunday that Rolling Stone frontman Mick Jagger could be headed for knighthood. The News of the World and the Sunday Times both reported that Jagger will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth in her honors list next weekend, but a spokeswoman for the British government told Reuters they never comment on honors until they are published.
Eminem reportedly brought in his old car, a purple Ford Mustang, for trade-in last week at a Detroit-area dealership. According to the AP, Eminem's uncle brought the car in to Russ Milne Ford while the rapper waited outside, where one of the workers recognized him. Russ Milne said it is considering selling the car and donating the proceeds to charity. Unfortunately, the car's $7,000 stereo system and Cobra tires were removed prior to the trade.
Former teen idol Johnny Depp is in talks to star in two action pics for producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The two-picture deal with the Walt Disney Co. would have Depp working with Bruckheimer on Takedown and Pirates of the Caribbean, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Depp last starred in the historical thriller From Hell by director Albert Hughes.
Fritz Lang's 1927 expressionist film Metropolis will premiere at the Film Forum in New York on July 12, Variety reports. The new version, a digitally restored 35mm print, premiered at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival as a work-in-progress, with the final reel of footage still unrestored.
It looks as though Brad Pitt's big-budget sci-fi epic The Fountain is set to begin production soon after a change of co-financiers. The film, budgeted at upwards of $70 million, will be directed by Darren Aronofsky from a script he co-wrote with Ari Handel. The film is being produced by New Regency and Warner Bros.
New Line Cinema is in talks with Antz scribe Todd Alcott to write the live-action adaptation of the adventure series Samurai Jack. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film will be directed by Rush Hour 2's Brett Ratner.
Two songwriters have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia against Britney Spears, her publishing company, Zomba, and her record company, Jive Records, claiming they own the copyright to a song on her Oops!...I Did It Again album. According to Sky News, Michael Cottrill and Larry Wnukowski say they wrote the song "What You See Is What You Get" in 1999 and want recognition for the tune.
Herman Cohen, the originator of the teen fright flick, died of throat cancer at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on June 2, Reuters reports. Cohen produced the 1957 cult classic I Was a Teenage Werewolf, which launched the late Michael Landon's career. Cohen went on to produce six more teen horror pictures, including I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and How to Make a Monster. Cohen is survived by a brother and sister.