Because of Winn-Dixie

Rated 2.0 A preacher’s lonely daughter in a small Southern town (Annasophia Robb) befriends a stray mutt over the objections of her harried father (Jeff Daniels); the dog helps her come to grips with having been abandoned by the mother she barely remembers. Writer Joan Singleton and director Wayne Wang no doubt had good intentions when they set out to adapt Kate DiCamillo’s popular young-readers novel, but the story never transcends the rudiments of ersatz down-home whimsy (like the defunct candy factory whose lozenges “taste like sorrow”), and Wang can’t find a convincing tone for his actors. Young Robb is earnest but too inexperienced to carry the film; the eccentric supporting cast includes Cicely Tyson as a blind recluse, Eva Marie Saint as a genteel librarian, and musician Dave Matthews as a pet-store clerk.