The year is 1942. As the Allies unite overseas to keep the world safe for democracy, there are voices at home that are barely heard. One of them belongs to Willie Morris, a shy and gawky eight-year-old whose childhood is even more quiet and isolated than his home town of Yazoo, Mississippi. An only child, ignored at school and uncomfortable with girls, Willie looks up to and confides in next-door neighbor Dink Jenkins, the town's star athlete, who's preparing to ship out in the service of Uncle Sam. Willie's father, Jack Morris, a stern but good-hearted veteran who lost his leg in the Spanish Civil War, is chiefly responsible for Willie's overprotective upbringing. Pushing in the other direction is his mother, Ellen Morris, a capable woman who knows that what Willie needs most is some freedom and a friend. Willie's ninth birthday gives her an opportunity to offer him both, in the form of a Jack Russell terrier puppy that the delighted Willie names Skip. Skip's outgoing personality helps Willie to build a friendship with Rivers Applewhite, the prettiest girl in school. Skip then further serves as matchmaker for Willie and Rivers at the movie theater, and lends a paw after Willie is challenged by Big Boy Wilkinson, Henjie Henick and Spit McGee to prove his worth in a football game. With Skip's canine help, Willie starts becoming "one of the boys." Then unexpectedly, Dink returns to Yazoo. But the dark truth soon emerges: Dink, when confronted by the realities of war, went AWOL. In trying to reconcile his hero worship of the Dink he once knew with his disappointment in the disgraced soldier, Willie begins to contend with the complexities of war and human conduct. He reaches a new perspective on these matters through his father's eyes and his own. Dink fails to show up at Willie's first baseball game, and the disappointed Willie takes it out on Skip, who runs away. The dog's disappearance and subsequent recovery teach Willie the strength of forgiveness, and give Dink a chance to embrace the power of redemption. Ultimately, it is a dog's love that teaches Willie Morris lifelong lessons of the human spirit.
Director: Jay Russell
Writer: Gail Gilchriest and Willie Morris
Producer: John Lee Hancock and Broderick Johnson
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane, Frankie Muniz, Luke Wilson and Daylan Honeycutt
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