XFINITY On Demand: Leonard Maltin Highlights Two Animal Stories

by | December 15, 2011 at 11:50 AM | Leonard Maltin's On Demand Picks, Movies, Xfinity On Demand

If you love animals, chances are you love animal stories onscreen, but you also know that they’re often highly emotional experiences. Here are two that I recommend.

Anna Sewell’s classic book “Black Beauty” has been filmed many times, but the 1994 version is arguably the best. For one thing, it’s narrated by the horse itself, as we follow the majestic animal from its carefree days as a pony through many hardships as it is passed from one owner to another in 19th century England. At different times, Beauty is assigned the task of pulling a lady’s carriage, performing as a taxi, and tugging freight. His various owners are ignorant at best, and cruel at worst. But Beauty has an indomitable spirit that somehow sees him through—and us along with him. Danny Elfman’s beautiful music score does a great deal to enhance this lovely film. Click here to use xfinityTV.com to purchase this movie on your TV.

My Dog Skip” isn’t just another story about a boy and his pet. It’s based on a memoir by the late literary lion Willie Morris, set and filmed in his native Mississippi. It’s unabashedly sentimental and overflowing with nostalgia for what we think of as a simpler, slower way of life in rural America during the early 1940s…although the challenges of wartime are always present. Young Willie is an only child who has trouble making friends his own age until a Jack Russell terrier puppy named Skip comes into his life. Fortunately, neither the director, Jay Russell, nor the actors, led by Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon, and Diane Lane, overplay their hand and let the film become syrupy. That’s why it works so well. Click here to use xfinityTV.com to purchase this movie on your TV.

I can’t predict how young viewers will respond, but if I were you I’d keep some tissues handy for both of these films.

Note: These picks, which start at $0.99, may not be available in all areas. SEE MORE OF LEONARD MALTIN’S PICKS HERE