This 1997 boy-and-dog story is a serious and compelling drama with broad appeal. Marty (Blake Heron) encounters a stray dog whose owner, a maladjusted loner, mistreats the animal, and Marty's quest to rescue the dog is complicated by the values his father (Michael Moriarty) tries to instill in him. Other family members and friends also become involved in the conflict, notably Rod Steiger as a shopkeeper whose veterinary skills and philosophical insights come in handy. Director Dale Rosenbloom's script, based on Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's novel, gives an unusual and believable depth to Marty, who's a blend of childish emotion and preadolescent intellectuality. His complexity enables the story to be a serious consideration of several significant ethical questions a child might realistically face and of the roles parents have in this process. The one drawback is the movie's failure to see all the way through one of its most cherished and challenging themes about the nature of honesty.