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Julie, a lonely fourteen year old girl, moves to Manzanita, an Oregon seaside town, from Los Angeles after her writer father, Robert, loses his job. Her family, including mother Kathryn and older sister Susan, has trouble adjusting to life in a small town. Julie parents struggle with her father's unemployment and her sister, Susan, finds solace in a summer fling with Tom, a not-to-bright local logger. The story opens with a 16th century Spanish sailors landing their launch on the beach of Manzanita. They carry a treasure chest up Neahkahnie Mountain, leading a manacled black slave. The treasure is buried and the slave killed and laid on top of the ground to "guard" the treasure and frighten the Indians away. Back in present day, Julie has a dramatic encounter with a large Roosevelt Elk on the beach. Its hooves uncover an old Spanish gold coin in the sand. The Elk becomes Julie's silent, watchful guide and protector as she becomes fascinated by the legend of the Tillamook Treasure and ... Written by
The story begins with a mystical elk on the beach running at Julie and jumping over her. The scene's genesis was in a real event. One summer, when Suzanne Marie and Janine Doyon were just toddlers, they were on the Manzanita beach with their mother, director Jane Beaumont Hall. The children were a hundred feet away playing in the sand. Suddenly, from out of nowhere a huge Roosevelt Elk came running down the beach straight for the girls. "There was nothing I could do," says Hall. "Time stood still as I saw the Elk run towards the girls and then suddenly swerve around them. The elk ran into the ocean and swam out past the breakers. It was an amazing experience. I don't think I had time to be scared for the girls and the elk was such a magnificent creature." Hall remembered that scene when she and Richard Doyon wrote the screenplay. Both the elk on the beach and the elk swimming in the ocean were written into the script. See more »
When Julie leaves for the mountain in the middle of a very bad rain storm to search for the gold in the stream, the outside shots show a very dark and rainy day. Immediately afterward, when her mother and father argue about her mother letting her go, her father angrily says, "You let her go out in this?" and gestures through the window outside, but it is clearly dry and sunny outside as seen through the window and the glass portion of the door. See more »
I'll give this movie one star for having moderately competent performances by some of the veteran supporting actors, and one star for having no glaring technical errors. Otherwise I cannot recommend any aspect of it. I watched it on cable because I grew up in Oregon and have fond memories of visiting Tillamook. What I got was a poorly written and edited clinker that resembles the unholy love child of Nancy Drew and Carlos Castaneda.
The first problem is that the producer cast his own daughter in the lead role, and while not particularly unpleasant on screen, she cannot act a lick. She is certainly not alone among the cast in this regard, but it's a huge liability in the main character.
Her line delivery is wooden and her emotional range is flat, but she does doggedly carry out her assignment with a modicum of dignity and consistency. The script and editing are another matter. This is one of those movies where you find yourself telling the story in your head because the movie apparently can't be bothered with fulfilling that chore. Each scene appears content to sketch out the bare outlines of its main idea without actually building a narrative. Then it ends abruptly and the movie wanders on to the next loosely connected event. Scenes often feel like they end a few actions or lines of dialog before they are finished, and the movie as a whole ends up playing like a Cliff's Notes version of itself.
Told in this manner, the story would probably only occupy about 30 minutes, but the movie falls into the amateur trap of trying to make up for a lack of substance with sheer quantity. The scenes may be short and light on dramatic content, but there are a lot of them. Some needlessly rehash previously covered material, some fulfill stock checklist purposes like Comic Relief Scene or Local Scenery Chewing Scene, but most of them do little to advance the story.
Many of the other reviews posted here praise the film for being family-friendly. If you are seeking wholesome, uplifting stories with a minimum of offensive content, there are many excellent choices that have strong narratives and talented performances. This is not one of them. Watch a Pixar film or the growing Narnia series instead. For those who claim that the girl in the leading role has great prospects ahead of her, I doubt she'll ever land a role in another project unless her father has a hand in making it. I wonder how many of these glowing reviews were written by people who were involved in making the film, or who come from the Tillamook area and are blinded by their enthusiasm for a homegrown product.
The people who made this movie meant well and tried hard. They did not succeed. Avoid it unless you can see it for free, and even then only watch it if you are looking for an instructive example of how not to make a movie, or if you enjoy giving bad movies the MST3K treatment I alluded to in my Summary line.
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