Because of Winn-Dixie
Don’t take that dog away, Mr. Dogcatcher Man! Why . . . why, that’s my dog! Poor little Opal Baloni (AnnaSophia Robb). Her preacher papa (Jeff Daniels) had to move again, this time to Naomi, Fla., the kind of Southern Gothic sound stage town familiar to the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Opal’s kinda lonely, but wouldn’t you know it! When she’s pickin’ up box mac ’n’ cheese at the Winn-Dixie, some goldarned mutt tears up the produce aisle. Next thing you know, not only does she have the bestest dog ever and a whole passel of pals from Dixie Eccentric central, like Miss Franny the librarian (Eva Marie Saint), who shares candies “made with sadness inside”; Gloria Dump (Cicely Tyson), the blind witchy woman in the empty house yonder; and Otis (Dave Matthews), a drifter who pays guitar and sings like Dave Matthews. Director Wayne Wang seals his fall from indie grace with this treacly school play packed with “lessons” about friendship and forgiveness. Too stupendously boring to hold even children’s attention, kids who are watching closely may need post-movie clarification on why guitar-playing drifters with criminal records are not ideal pals for 10-year-old girls, even though Miz Gloria tells Opal, “We should judge him by the pretty music he makes . . . ’cuz that’s all we know about him now.” Michael Jackson defense team, take note.