Have a look at the tagline for "Because of Winn-Dixie," which really says it all: "Discover what happens when you go looking for a miracle and a miracle comes looking for you."
Opal, a mommy-less little girl with a troubled past, moves to a new town and befriends a lovable dog. Together they inspire and revitalize a sleepy community of people who’ve forgotten how to love one another. If this surprising little gem of a film doesn’t move you to tears within the first ten minutes, the real selling point is when Opal says sweetly, "I think people have forgotten how to share their joy."
Meanwhile, the audience has forgotten how not to vomit bile.
I’ll admit it. I didn’t really go see "Because of Winn-Dixie." I did, however, view the trailer enough times to understand why my editor didn’t want me to see it. He couldn’t bear to see me rip apart the pure, heartwarming sunshine this film exudes.
That’s a lie, my editor actually forced the "Winn-Dixie" screener upon me as punishment for being a surly and rotten employee. But luckily for everyone, not even the threat of unemployment could drag my ass to the theater for this. The cash I would collect in workers’ compensation for my warmth-damaged heart would bankrupt the newspaper and perhaps even the entire university.
My heart would be so warmed it would turn to gold, and I’d become a useless kitten-kissing zombie who begins her reviews with diarrhea-inducing drivel like "’Kangaroo Jack II’ is 90 minutes of pure, unadulterated fun – a wild romp and comedic joyride that even grown-ups are sure to enjoy."
Vanguard readers would start wiping their asses with the newspaper (more often) instead of reading it, and in a chain reaction too complex for the scope of this article, the destruction of the universe would be set into motion.
Besides, in a world where Gael Garcia Bernal’s penis-free, simulated gay sex in "Bad Education" warrants an NC-17 rating but Nicole Kidman’s very real gyrating bush in "Cold Mountain" doesn’t, it can’t be very hard to accurately predict what family movies like "Winn-Dixie" entail. I put my money down on everyone’s favorite commandment of "love thy neighbor" mixed with some anxiety over the breakdown of the nuclear family. And nothing, absolutely nothing, that might sully the minds of our children.
But there is one truly unique thing about this movie: They use computer animation to make the dog look like he’s smiling. Could Lassie smile? Hell no. Is Opal going to fall in a well? Unfortunately, probably not.
No one in this tedious "Winn-Dixie" la-la land will ever need to digitally censor guns and the word "penis" right out of movies like "E.T." because it’s a place where there is no such thing as real violence and nobody has any sexual organs.
"Winn-Dixie" is directed by a guy named Wayne Wang, who also directed the masterpiece "Maid in Manhattan," and if that isn’t a million times more offensive and morally damaging than Bernal’s truly perfect buttocks, I don’t know what is.
I’m not saying that every movie should contain sex, drugs and violence, only most of them. Really, what is it about Bernal’s crotch-bobbing that is so much more damaging than a dog who teaches a town how to love? All I know is that the latter idea would have given me an instant migraine if it hadn’t first numbed my brain.
Of course, I could be horribly wrong. Maybe this movie would have changed my life in unimaginable ways. Maybe the dog really is magical. Maybe we as a society need another heartwarming animal movie to save our souls from shriveling forever with apathy.
My advice to parents? Start hoarding those old VHS tapes right now, because the age of the watchable family movie is officially and permanently over. Why? "Because of Winn-Dixie," of course.