If you’re the kind of person who thinks dogs are just OK- you’re not allergic to them and you’ve never had a traumatic confrontation with one on the sidewalk – you’ll probably find yourself vaguely charmed by this family film.

But if you’re a dog person, – wow. Forget it. Bring Kleenex. You’ll be a blubbering puddle within the first 10, 15 minutes or so. And several more times after that.

Ten-year-old Opal (AnnaSophia Robb) inadvertently adopts a dog she names Winn-Dixie, after the grocery store where she finds him. He helps the lonely girl make new friends (Eva Marie Saint, Cicely Tyson, Dave Matthews) in a small Florida town.

Is “Winn-Dixie” an instant classic, right up there with “Lassie Come Home” and “My Dog Skip”? Probably not. But it is undeniably touching and totally appropriate for the entire family, with its themes of unexpected friendship and unconditional love. Rated: PG for thematic elements and brief mild language. Running time: 106 minutes. Rating: 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP movie critic
‘Son of the Mask’

This sorry little offspring of the 1994 hit features Jamie Kennedy blundering along for the absent Jim Carrey, who starred in the original. The filmmakers have toned down the action and purged whatever traces of adult mentality the original possessed to present the follow-up as a family-friendly flick. Yet the antics are so dumb, they likely will annoy even young children.

Kennedy plays a hubby who takes on shape-shifting superpowers after donning an ancient mask, gets frisky with his wife, then faces no end of mayhem when his baby is born possessing the same abilities. Alan Cumming, Bob Hoskins and Traylor Howard co-star. Rated: PG for action, crude and suggestive humor and language. Running time: 95 minutes. Rating: 1 1/2 out of 4 stars.

– David Germain, AP movie writer
‘Hitch’

Will Smith’s enormous charm only goes so far in this occasionally cute but trifling love story, his first time out as a romantic leading man. The movie offers a few laughs before veering into a foolish plot conflict that drains all credibility. Smith plays a Manhattan “date doctor” who helps hopeless men snare the women of their dreams but has trouble making a go of things when he meets his own soul mate (Eva Mendes).

Director Andy Tennant lets the movie meander to tiresome lengths and forces Smith and Mendes to stumble through a sappy conclusion that drags on interminably.

The main story is upstaged by a charming secondary romance involving one of Smith’s clients (Kevin James), a meek accountant smitten with a beautiful heiress (Amber Valletta). Rated: PG-13 for language and some strong sexual references. Running time: 116 minutes. Rating: 2 out of 4 stars.

– David Germain, AP movie writer


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