||Willie Morris (Muniz) is an eight-year-old citizen of World War II-era Yazoo, Missippippi. A little on the shy side, he is continually the brunt of the jokes of his more extroverted, athletic classmates, most notably boisterous Big Boy Wilkinson and his two equally devious henchmen. Willie's only true friend is high school football star Dink Jenkins (Wilson), his encouraging next door neighbor who also happens to be heading off to war. When Willie's mother Ellen (Lane) proposes to his father, Jack (Bacon) the idea of giving the boy a puppy for his ninth birthday, protective war veteran Jack protests, reason being that his withdrawn son isn't ready for the responsibility and emotional investment which comes with the territory. Jack finally gives in, though, giving Willie not only a new best friend, a Jack Russell terrier named Skip, but also the acceptance of other children, including the prettiest girl in school, Rivers Applewhite. Everything is perfect for a while, but, Willie's innocent existence in Yazoo is rattled when he and Skip discover that some mean bootleggers are hiding their product in the town cemetery and his idol Dink returns from war-torn Europe with some demons to confront.