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Monday, April 13, 2015

'Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn' DVD: Kilmer as Clemens, Austin as Finbn, Never the Twain Shall Meet

Product Details
The eone films 2013 movie "Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn" is a fun and charming version of that American classic tale by Mark Twain. An indication that this is a modern telling of that story is that the credits identify a character as "Jim," rather than as the name by which that character is traditionally known.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the spoiler-laden trailer for "Sawyer" provides a good sense of the classic and new elements of the film.

The movie begins with two moppets visiting "Batman" veteran Val Kilmer as "Sawyer" author Mark Twain and having him begin the tale of Sawyer, played by Joel Courtney of  the awesome film "Super 8," and Finn, played by Jake T. Austin of the fun Disneycom "The Wizards of Waverly Place."

The first scene involving the boys clearly establishes Sawyer as a 19th century Zack Morris in that it has Sawyer sneaking into his one-room schoolhouse late for class only to con the teacher into having him sit with the female students. This, of course, is reminiscent of the famous scene later in the story in which Sawyer gets the boys in town to both whitewash his fence and pay him for the privilege.

The classic TV vibe continues with introducing the Richie Cunningham/Fonzie relationship that Sawyer has with the slightly older and more wild Finn. An element of the parallel relates to Sawyer consistently referring to his pal as "Huckie."

The action fully kicks in when the boys being in a cemetery at midnight makes them the witnesses to a murder for which an innocent man is arrested. This is turn leads to a dramatic courtroom confrontation that results in our boys going on the run.

The subsequent adventures, which send that character and his buddy figuratively heading for the hills, are well known to "Sawyer" fans. These include a funeral scene and a raft trip down the Mississippi River.

The elements that distinguish this version from more traditional recreations of the story merely make it different, not better or worse. These change also most likely increase the appeal of the film to the more stoic young audiences of today than their more lively predecessors.

Kilmer plays Twain as a slightly eccentric but understated man; this characterization lacks the sparkle and greater sense of mischief that many often associate with the real Twain.

Similarly, the dreamy 20 year-old Austin and adorable 18 year-old Courtney are more than attractive enough to make tween girls swoon over them and pre-adolescent boys want to join their adventures. However, these actual ages and the corresponding appearances of these actors make them a couple of years older than the Twain characters and prior film versions of the story. Again, this merely is different.

All of this amounts to a film that largely holds true to the themes and spirit of the source material and that does a good job both encouraging 21st century kids to pick up an e-reader and in keeping these characters alive roughly 150 years after their creation.

Anyone with any questions or comments regarding Sawyer" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.