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When Zachary Beaver Came to Town
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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A touching story of boys growing up.

9/10
Author: Kenton Self from Dallas, TX
13 October 2003

I thought this movie was very entertaining, in the spirit of "Stand By Me" but more life-affirming.

The movie was well cast. In particular I thought the characters of Cal and Scarlett were well portrayed.

I also enjoyed the "small town" feel. (It was filmed in Granger, Texas.)

If you read the book, the movie is a little different, (It's a modern setting, and the cafe is not in a bowling alley.) but the spirit of the book is intact.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A nice production of a good book.

8/10
Author: Jim Baker from San Antonio, TX
15 October 2003

I went to the October 10th premiere of the movie in Austin with my two sons. We had been waiting for what seemed an eternity for it to finally be released. It still isn't, but at least we got to see it.

The movie is very good. There are several changes from the book, most obvious being the modern setting instead of the 1970s. That change didn't hurt the story in any way. Another noticeable change in my opinion was the shifting of emphasis on the subplots. Don't get me wrong, they were all there. Some were simply less important or more important in the movie than they were in the book. Once again, that didn't seem to hurt the story.

The movie was well cast. The important characters were very nicely realized. The children in the movie are a very talented group. I especially enjoyed the portrayal of Cal.

I would like to see the movie again in a regular movie theater. There were moments when the picture got a little blurry, but I honestly believe that it was the projector at the Paramount. You could see that someone was trying to keep it focused. Just the same, the actual camera work on the movie was awesome. Everything has a vitality of realism that made me feel like I was standing there watching the story unfold.

My favorite scene of the movie was when Toby's anger over Cal's brother's death, Zachary Beaver's heartbreak at feeling he has been blown off by his new friends, and the funeral were all woven together. I sat in my seat sobbing with the characters. It was so very well filmed. I never cry at movies. This one got me.

I hope this film gets a distributor. I want to see it again.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

An Endearing and Poignant Journey of Acceptance

9/10
Author: poguemj from Austin, Texas
21 November 2003

I enjoyed getting the opportunity to view this particular film at the Paramount during the film festival. As I watched it, some aspects of the film reminded me of the movie "Stand By Me". Perhaps, I felt a connection between the portrayal of the strong relationships and endearing and poignant journeys of the three young boys in "When Zachary Beaver Came to Town" and the group of boys in "Stand By Me". Although, it was obviously adapted some from the book, (which so many films are); I felt like it was successful in capturing what to me was the most important message, Acceptance. Furthermore, the film portrayed a wide range of examples of acceptance... (acceptance of self, differences, life and death,) which not only included the primary characters, but also involved the whole town in the film. I appreciate when a film actually contains meaningful and relative lessons in life, yet remains equally entertaining at the same time. The film, "When Zachary Beaver Came to Town", is definitely one that can evoke a wide range of emotions on the viewer's part. Hopefully, it will make it to the "Big Screen" in some form or fashion, so others can get a chance to enjoy it.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Very very enjoyable DVD

6/10
Author: nodakbutterfly from United States
4 September 2007

My Boss and I have started exchanging DVD's at work and we are not teenagers or children ....we are extremely mature adults, meaning in their 50's and 60's. Since we work an overnight shift...and our adult lives are very depressing with family and financial problems...we look for movies that are light, fun, meaningful, entertaining and hopefully even....sleep producing. We need to lay down, and let something entertain us while we think of nothing terribly earth shattering and nerve jarring. This is one of the movies she loaned to me. I looked at the title and said...."what on earth is this?"...so put it aside. Today I plugged it in and was pleasantly entertained. I did not, of course, read the book, or ever hear about it. I found it enjoyable and as a retired teacher, I thought.....this would be a movie you could play in school during a restful activity period. It had a message, it was acted according to the audience it was addressing......it was like real life small southern town reality and on the level of the youngsters it was designed for. It touched on many aspects of life that might impact children the age of the characters in this film. This is a worthy family film.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

OK family drama about how life changes...

5/10
Author: dwpollar from Evansville, Indiana USA
9 April 2006

1st watched 4/8/2006 - 5 out of 10 (Dir-John Schultz): OK family drama about how life changes when a traveling sideshow exhibitionist enters Granger, Texas displaying possibly the fattest boy ever, Zachary Beaver. The changes don't come because of Zachary but instead they just happened to occur when he enters town. One family breaks apart when the mother leaves to become a country singer. Another family has a member go into the Army, and Zachary's partner and legal guardian disappears. At this point, Toby from the 1st family, and Cal from the 2nd try to get to know Zachary. First as a joke and later more seriously because of their own personal losses. We get to see Toby try to grow up despite not being in the best of circumstances and as things get worse he tries to escape but obviously can't. An interesting story with inconsistent acting and direction makes for a so-so experience in what could have been a much better movie. Attempts are made to pull at our heartstrings but even Sasha Neulinger's appealing portrayal of Zachary can't help the movie from falling a little flat.

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Awesome until end

5/10
Author: bobojiggler from Iowa
26 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like the characters and I feel a lot for them. It's nice how the main characters treat Zachary like how a person should be treated instead of being treated like a freak show like everyone else in the town. I was really sad when Cal's brother died in the army and I was sad when Toby thought that he wouldn't see his mother again and that he thought his dad didn't try hard enough. I was really annoyed at how the blonde girl talked. The reason why I gave this a five is because if the end. In the end, Toby and Cal try to get Zachary baptized before social services take him away so that he can join his mother in heaven when he dies. That is all that the ending. I didn't finish the ending because I think that it is stupid and way religious. I think that it's odd that a movie like this one made such a big change like that.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Ward, I Think There's Something Wrong with the Beaver

4/10
Author: wes-connors from Los Angeles
18 January 2010

Twelve-year-old Texas friends Jonathan Lipnicki (as Toby Wilson) and Cody Linley (as Cal McKnight) react like you might expect when "World's Fattest Boy," 443-pound Sasha Neulinger (as Zachary Beaver), comes to visit their Texas town. There are guffaws, groans, and grins - but, the three lads become pals. Mr. Lipnicki's mother leaves town to become a country music star, Mr. Linley's older brother joins the army, Mr. Neulinger's guardian disappears, and the three lads learn how friendship can help heal loss...

Based on an award-winning children's novel by Kimberly Willis Holt, "When Zachary Beaver Came to Town" gets lost in the translation to motion picture. You can tell, however, there was a good story somewhere. The best storyline involves Linley's war-bound brother. The worst is may be Neulinger's baptism with a fat suit. There are intriguing but unrealized possibilities in wayward characters, like Lipnicki's mother (Jane Krakowski) and Neulinger's guardian (Kevin Corrigan). The book had to be better.

**** When Zachary Beaver Came to Town (10/9/03) John Schultz ~ Jonathan Lipnicki, Cody Linley, Sasha Neulinger, Eric Stoltz

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