An old fashioned kids' flick that embraces its clichés and serves them up with a contagious, indomitable spirit, "My Dog Skip" is a genuine I-laughed-I-cried pic that miraculously sidesteps the kind of eye-rolling material it could have easily become.

Based on an autobiographical book by Willie Morris about the World War II-era adventures of a lonely, small-town pip-squeak (Frankie Muniz from "Malcolm In the Middle") and his dog (duh!), "Skip" affectionately visits all the expected territory -- bullies, baseball and the prettiest girl in town -- without ever feeling trite.

Young Willie's only real friend is his next door neighbor and hero, Dink Jenkins (Luke Wilson) -- Yazoo, Mississippi's star athlete and a recent Army recruit who promises he'll teach the boy to throw a curve ball upon his return from war.

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