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This feature film, "A Modern Twain Story: "The Prince and the Pauper"
(2007) stars the highly popular with pre-teens Sprouse twins, it went
Updates of classic literature like this have become relatively common; "Emma" is adapted as "Clueless", "Othello" as "O", "Pygmalion" becomes ''She's All That'', Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" becomes "10 Things I Hate About You". "A Modern Twain Story: "The Prince and the Pauper" is a little more direct with its title, probably because so little of Twain's original story was incorporated into the movie that the producers felt they needed to alert the viewer that the classical connection was intentional. The original was set in 1547 and tells the story of two young boys who are identical in appearance: Tom Canty, a pauper who lives with his abusive father, and Prince Edward, son of Henry VIII of England.
If you are unfamiliar with Disney Channel superstars Cole and Dylan Sprouse (best known for "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and its nautical spin-off) they are height challenged twin boys who seem like regular guys. Before you start thinking twin Gary Colemans, it is not that bad although their routines may have you thinking back to Arnold's zany antics on "Different Strokes".
The modern version of the "Prince and the Pauper" story utilizes original character names as Tom Canty (Dylan Sprouse) dreams of being an actor, but with both his parents dead he is being groomed to take over his grandfather's (played by Ed Lauter-basically his angry father role from "Girls Just Want to Have Fun") small landscaping company. Meanwhile, Eddie Tudor (Cole Sprouse) is a burnt out child star making his latest box-office blockbuster in a Palm Beach movie studio near Tom's house. Poor Eddie is neither happy nor particularly likable. One day Tom sneaks onto the Hollywood lot and the boys meet. You have to suspend disbelief here as they seem a bit under whelmed by the fact that they look exactly alike; the same goes for the inability of Tom's schoolmates and neighbors to notice his uncanny resemblance to a certain mega-star. The first thirty minutes of the film is pretty lame and it doesn't really start to engage you until the twins switch places.
Dylan and Cole are not exactly brimming over with acting for the camera skills and the script could use a lot of work. In fact the scene in which Cole is doing some imitations for his costar's amusement is so unintentionally bad that I actually felt embarrassed for the poor guy. And in general the weaker scenes are those involving just the twins.
But the basic premise is solid and there are some good supporting performances from Lauter, Sally Kellerman, and Vincent Spano (as Miles). You can see the ending coming but the "grass is always greener" theme is nicely showcased (insert 1987's "Overboard" here).
Kay Panabaker is featured on the promotional material but is virtually absent from the film. Buyers of the DVD will at least see more of her as she gets considerable screen time in the behind the scenes special feature.
Anyone interested in a good adaptation of Twain's book should seek out the hard-to-find three-part "Disneyland" production broadcast in March 1962 ("The Pauper King", "The Merciful Law of the King", "Long Live the Rightful King") in which Guy ("Zorro" and "Lost in Space") Williams played the Miles Hendon part. With a 150 minute running length it had time to do justice to the story.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Royalty is replaced by Hollywood stardom in this modernized Mark Twain
remake. I think the Sprouse twins do fine, especially Cole Sprouse as
Prince Edward, the more difficult role. The writers wanted to make a
statement about celebrity, so unlike the royal heir in the Twain
original, who really is just a boy in line for the throne, this Eddie
Tudor is a high-powered teen superstar whose heart is hardened by the
plastic values of Hollywood. But in this story, he is also just an
abandoned kid trying to find his way back home. Sprouse pulls if off,
making you feel sympathy for the lost Prince who misses the few
emotional crumbs he gets from his 'Power Mom', even while you'd just
love to smack the cocky little brat.
The 'normal' life he longs for turns out to be weird and unfamiliar to the Prince. I agree with the other reviewer that the script short-changes Eddie. Passing as Tom Canty, he meets Tom's girlfriend in acting class and likes her, but the story doesn't follow through. Eddie's long-lost father was a movie star who wrecked his own Hollywood career by acting like a Diva. The screenwriters were a little too obsessed with having Eddie repeat his father's mistakes, and passed up some good story material for Eddie. This was a mistake, since obviously the young Sprouse fans would like to see both twins with a love interest in the movie.
Dylan Sprouse's best scene as the 'Eddie' impostor is his press interview with a scandal-thirsty 'Rita Skeeter' style gossip monger. Though Tom Canty is a natural actor on the movie set, the phony scandal vulture seems bizarre to him and he can't fake that side of Eddie's life. Dylan is skillfully off-balance portraying Tom's predicament--like when Eddie leaves messages on his Mom's cell phone, Mom thinks Tom left the messages and Tom reacts like he's in the Twilight Zone. I think good acting makes you believe the actor really is in the situation in the script. Both Sprouses are convincing as 'fish out of water', kids disoriented by loss of identity and misplaced coping skills. They convey the feelings of being surrounded by people who don't believe them, who think they are faking, acting out or losing their minds. And that's the most interesting side of this story.
The writers do some interesting things with 'modernization.' As I mentioned, the original Prince Edward couldn't just dial up the castle on his cell phone, but when Modern Eddie calls his Mom, she thinks its Tom Canty messing with her head. As a tough Hollywood self-starter, Eddie Tudor never warms up to Miles as his protector and makes his way home on his own. Original Tom Canty is in no rush to get back to his abusive father, and being prince isn't that demanding compared to poverty. But Modern Tom Canty gets homesick, and being a supercool teen movie star is not quite the cakewalk life of a coddled English prince. The real Eddie, who's a trained stuntman, finds his way back to the movie set just in time to save Tom, not from coronation as King, but from having to do a dangerous stunt. Watching both kids try to get back home is a nice switch that makes this modern story, in some ways, more moving than the classic movie versions.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story was transformed into a modern tale very well but I couldn't help feeling like it was incomplete. Eddie is an actor who wants to be a normal kid. Tom is a normal kid who wants to be an actor. The character development of Eddie Tudor seemed so minute compared to his counterpart Tom Canty. Tom(as Eddie) got exactly what he wanted acting in place of Eddie. Eddie's experience left out any enjoyment of being a normal kid. A lesson in family bonds was the peak of his time as Tom. The acting club that Eddie(as Tom) went to seemed like a great way to spark an interest in acting but it didn't go any deeper. Overall the story still flowed into a happy ending with a small twist. I just couldn't help feeling like it was incomplete.
This movie is a really funny movie to watch ! The script is funny, but the acting is pretty bad from Dylan and Cole. The movie is about two different boys, that switch places with each other. One of them is a rich and a famous actor. The other one is just a normal school kid, that dreams about being a famous actor. Then they switch places, as i said. This movie is for everybody i would say. It doesn't matter if you are 7 or if you are 17. If you like the suit life of Zack and Cody, you will like this movie. Because it's the same type of humor and acting and other stuffs. This movie is perfect for a boring Sunday when you have nothing to do. I strongly recommend this movie !
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