Diane Lane,Kevin Bacon,Clint Howard,Luke Wilson
Willie Morris looks back in the early 1940s and how it was colored by his dearly beloved dog, a Jack Russell Terrier whom he had named Skip. Willie is a lonely boy with a gruff, proud father, a Spanish Civil War veteran, and a charismatic, talkative mother, a housewife, but he is an only child and small with few friends. His one companion is a young guy who lives next door, Dink Jenkins, who is the local sports hero in Mississippi. However, when Dink is drafted to go to war, Willie's mother decides to buy him a dog, against his father's wishes, in order that he should have some company.Willie and Skip become firm friends very quickly. However, Willie gets bullied at school by Big Boy Wilkinson, Henjie Henick, and Spit McGee, until Dink sends him a German helmet and belt from the front line. The other boys demand he play ball in order to win back his belongings, while Skip leaps in to help him. That same day, the three boys talk Willie into spending the night in a graveyard, where they claim a witch is buried. If he stays there, he gets to join their gang and also keep the ball Dink signed for them; otherwise, he has to give them his German helmet. Willie stays at the graveyard for a number of hours until he hears two moonshiners Millard and Junior who are loading crates into a crypt. Skip jumps on Millard until Junior comes at him with a spade. Willie slingshots Junior with an acorn and attempts to escape the graveyard with Skip, but they are soon captured by Junior. He threatens to kill Skip unless Willie stays before sunrise. After the two men leave, the three boys return and accept Willie into their group as a reward.Skip, having always been a friendly dog, is known by everyone in the town, including black people - significant because Mississippi was still segregated at the time. Skip leads Willie through the best parts of his life; his boyhood days. Thanks to Skip, Willie now has three friends, and a girlfriend, Rivers. Skip is there for him when Dink gets home, shell-shocked and a drunkard since dishonorably discharged from the Army, presumably for desertion. However, when Willie's first ball game comes along, Skip and Willie have their first falling out. Dink agrees to come along, but does not bother because since the war he has found competitions do not interest him anymore. Skip, wanting to cheer Willie up, runs onto the field and sits wagging his tail, refusing to leave. Angry and embarrassed by his poor performance at the game, causing his team to lose, Willie publicly hits Skip across the muzzle and he disappears without a trace.Unbeknownst to Willie, Skip has returned to the crypt, and has been accidentally shut in the grave where moonshine is being stored. As Willie searches in the graveyard, he hears Skip's barks and runs to save him, but Junior knocks the dog unconscious with the spade. Dink arrives and manages to eject the two moonshiners. As the family and friends gather in solemnity in the vet's waiting room, Skip nearly dies from his injuries in Willie's arms, but the dog awakens, licking Willie's hands and face.Willie explains about his friendship with Skip, that he is an only child and Skip an only dog. When Willie leaves to go to Oxford University, Skip remains with Willie's parents, sleeping in Willie's old room, and then dies on Willie's bed, being buried under the elm tree.