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.
January 28, 2004 12:09pm EST
Top Story: Schwarzenegger Must Repay Campaign Loans
Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster ruled Monday that by borrowing more than $4.5 million to finance his run for governor in last October's recall election, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had broken a state law restricting candidates from accepting personal loans of more than $100,000 for their campaigns and would therefore have to repay the money. According to Reuters, an upbeat Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that he would pay $4.5 million on top of the $5 million he already spent to be elected. "The $4.5 million we got loaned from the bank, I always intended to pay that back myself, so it was a great decision," Schwarzenegger said. "We never wanted to raise the money to pay it back. I myself pay for that." When campaigning last fall, the Republican governor rallied against special-interest donations and attacked his opponents, including his Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, for taking donations from unions and Indian tribes with casino interests. At the time, Schwarzenegger argued he would not have to depend on outside money to finance his campaign because he was independently wealthy.
Halle Berry OK After Set Accident
Halle Berry, who broke her arm last year while shooting Gothika in Montreal and injured her eye on the set of the James Bond actioner Die Another Day, was injured once again on the set, this time while working shooting a scene for her the comic book adventure pic Catwoman. Production spokesman Joe Everett told The Associated Press Tuesday that Berry was taken to a hospital after colliding with a piece of set equipment while filming a running scene, but is now back at work. "She had to maneuver past a piece of equipment, a set piece and she didn't quite run past it, but she's just fine," he said. "She was taken to hospital Saturday night, treated and released and was at work again Monday morning."
Faith Evans and Husband Arrested
R&B singer Faith Evans and her husband, record executive Todd Russaw, were arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana and booked at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, the AP reports, but a spokeswoman at the Hapeville Police Department would give no details Wednesday morning. The 30-year-old singer received a Grammy nod for her duet "Can't Believe" with Carl Thomas from her 2001 album, Faithfully and has worked with Whitney Houston and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, who signed Evans to his Bad Boy label and produced her first album. Evans was previously married to Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., who was killed in a drive-by shooting in March 1997.
Swept Away Lawsuit Surges Forward
A lawsuit in which self-described singer, songwriter, director and actor Vincent D'Onofrio (not the actor of the same name from NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent) accuses Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, of stealing the idea for 2002's Swept Away remake will go to court May 4, the AP reports. D'Onofrio sued Madonna, Ritchie and Sony Pictures in Superior Court in October 2002, claiming he pitched the idea for a remake of the 1975 Italian comedy to Madonna in April 1997 and had several meetings with her and Ritchie--who then cut him out of the credits and compensation. Attorneys for the couple have said D'Onofrio has no proof of a contract with Madonna or Sony. D'Onofrio is seeking$10 million in damages.
Kelly Osbourne Gets ABC Pilot
Kelly Osbourne is going from reality TV to scripted fare with ABC's drama pilot Doing It. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series, based on British author Melvin Burgess' controversial young-adult novel of the same name, centers on the sexual antics of three 16-year-old Seattle boys: Dino (Sean Farris), Jonathan (Chris Lowell) and Ben (Jon Foster). Osbourne will play Jonathan's love interest. Osbourne and her father, Ozzy, recently topped the U.K. singles chart with a cover of Changes, a single Ozzy originally recorded with Black Sabbath. The third season of the MTV reality series The Osbournes premiered Tuesday night.
Mandy Moore Nixes Reality Show
While some in Hollywood embrace the concept of having their private lives broadcast on TV, others refuse to warm up to the idea, including singer/actress Mandy Moore. "I love watching reality shows, but I would never want to be in or on a reality show," Moore told AP Radio. Moore, who is dating tennis star Andy Roddick, says her life just isn't exciting enough for people to tune in. She also added that a behind-the-scenes show about Roddick would also never happen. "It was supposed to be like a documentary or something at first, and then someone kind of took that and ran with it and it kind of snowballed out of context," Moore said, adding that if someone close to her were in such a show, she wouldn't stick around long enough to be in it.
Nick Lachey Joins ABC
MTV's other reality series, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, seems to have also launched the careers of pop stars Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey into network territory. Lachey, formerly of boy band 98 Degrees, has sealed a six-figure deal with ABC, following in the footsteps of Simpson, who is already developing a sitcom with the network. Under the deal, Lachey will be placed in one of ABC's sitcom pilots as well as in a music or variety special, Variety reports. Network insiders said it's possible ABC may even pair the Simpson and Lachey projects back-to-back, perhaps as part of the "TGIF" franchise. ABC recently announced plans for the newlyweds to host a modern-day Sonny and Cher-style variety show sometime this spring.
Top Story: Douglas Feted at Golden Globes
The 61st annual Golden Globes has chosen Michael Douglas as this year's Cecil B. DeMille Award recipient for career achievement, The Associated Press reports. Douglas follows in the footsteps of his father, Kirk Douglas, who won the same honor in 1968. Previous recipients include Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, Al Pacino and Sophia Loren. Douglas will receive the award during NBC's live telecast Jan. 25 in Los Angeles. AP reports the Hollywood Foreign Press Association also announced that Kevin Costner's 17-year-old daughter, Lily Costner, will escort winners offstage at this year's ceremony as Miss Golden Globe.
Hilton "Embarrassed" By Tape
Paris Hilton admitted to AP she never thought a sex video she made with her ex-boyfriend would ever become public. "I feel embarrassed and humiliated, especially because my parents and the people who love me have been hurt," the socialite and reality TV actress said Monday in a statement to AP. "I was in an intimate relationship and never, ever thought that these things would become public." The ex-boyfriend, Rick Solomon, recently filed a $10 million slander lawsuit against Hilton, her family and her publicist, claiming they have sought to portray him as a criminal.
Spears Hits Hollywood Walk of Fame
Pop princess Britney Spears got her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Monday, on the eve of her first album release in two years, Reuters reports. "I'm seriously speechless right now. This is something I've dreamed about since I was a little girl. ... Thank you so much for even coming out today and sharing this memory with me that I'll never forget," the giddy singer told her cheering onlookers at the ceremony. Her album In the Zone was released Tuesday.
Minnelli Files Suit Against Husband
Liza Minnelli has filed a lawsuit against her estranged husband, David Gest, claiming he stole at least $2 million from her. AP reports Minnelli's lawsuit, filed in Manhattan court, says she and her representatives question Gest's expense deductions from money she earned in performances that he produced, or in which he acted as her agent. This follows Gest's own scathing $10 million lawsuit filed in October in which he claims Minnelli physically abused him. Needless to say, the two, who married in March 2002, have also both filed for divorce.
Anderson Launches Clothing Line
Jumping on the entrepreneurial bandwagon, Pamela Anderson is set to launch her own clothing line. AP reports "The Pamela Collection" will include jeans, T-shirts, sweaters, jewelry, lingerie and fragrance when it reaches stores in fall 2004. "I want to make sure it's affordable and available," Anderson said, who will have creative control and will be involved as a co-designer. "I can't wait for it to come out so I can get the clothes for myself and my friends. It's been a lot of work," the Baywatch star added.
Mickey Mouse Turns 75
Happy Birthday, Mickey! The Disney icon arrived on the scene 75 years ago today when he made his screen debut in the animated short Steamboat Willie on Nov. 18, 1928, as an irreverent rodent who takes Captain Pete's steamboat on a joyride and woos Minnie Mouse (who is turning 75 as well).
Music Industry To Get Worse Before Better
According to a study done by the London-based research firm Informa Media Group, the music industry has at least two more years before they'll see any sales recovery, Reuters reports. Informa's study showed the retail value of global music sales will drop to $28.2 billion this year from $30.9 billion in 2002 and to $28 billion in 2004 before returning to growth in 2005 as new Internet music services take off. "The music industry is in a bad way at the moment but the continued fall in the value of music sales is certainly not irreversible. The success of the new download services proves there is a viable market for legitimate digital sales," Simon Dyson, an Informa analyst, told Reuters.
Reagans Gets Airdate
In an unexpected move, Showtime announced they will air The Reagans, the controversial TV-movie CBS nixed a few weeks ago, on Nov. 30, AP reports. Originally, Showtime said they would wait until next year to air the movie, which follows Ronald and Nancy Reagan's rise to power and caused an uproar from some who claimed it contained inaccuracies that projected the former president in a bad light. "We just thought it didn't make sense to prolong this and bring it on next year," Robert Greenblatt, Showtime Entertainment president, told AP. "I'm just tired of people making judgments on this when they haven't seen it. Let them see it."
Role Call: Smothers Brothers Reunite
Tom and Dick Smothers, the successful sibling team behind the wacky '70s variety show Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, have agreed to play themselves in a two-hour telepic for Paul Reiser's production company, Nuance Prods. Variety reports the hybrid biopic/mockumentary will explore how the two got their start, their rise to stardom and their controversial variety show, which CBS yanked due to disagreements over content. Smothers Brothers alum David Steinberg will direct.