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Michael Van Wagenen,
At the start of the movie, young Dana is spending time with her Uncle Henry on his mountain. Uncle Henry describes events that may have taken place, and thanks to Dana's vivid imagination, and visual effects, we see them--pirates burying treasure, Aztecs building a secret entrance to their temple.
Unfortunately, in another flashback, we see that Henry's protégé Nigel got greedy and even wanted to kill Henry. Dana escapes, but Henry's jeep goes off the cliff. In his will, Henry gave the mountain to Dana.
28 years after that first scene, Dana is a divorced public defender with three kids, delivering a closing argument. Her kids aren't too happy as they sit waiting in front of the church where their father just got married for the second time. When she finally shows up, Dana is told once again that she has failed her children. They don't realize the importance of her job; she has to leave yet again to return to the courtroom when the jury comes back.
Jake (Crawford Wilson) and Jade (Adelaide Kane) are twins, and typical teenagers who bicker. Actually, Jade, while basically a good kid, is rebellious and perpetually angry. With her behavior, one would expect her to wear Goth clothing, but her dark hair merely has a couple of purple streaks. In a flashback where she is dressed a little more creatively, with a hat similar to those worn by businessmen prior to 1960, we see where she gets her attitude. Jade is a talented singer, though not my taste.
11-year-old Maddie (Kayla Carlson) is a genius bound for Harvard. She is more upbeat, though she wishes her mom had more time for the family.
The kids are all prepared to enjoy their weekend when their mom gets a message from attorney Tom Kent. A major corporation has made an offer on her mountain, and she must go to Tesla Falls and sign some papers. Dana demands that the kids go with her, to predictable protests. Maddie shows more enthusiasm than her siblings.
And Henry's lodge is not part of the deal, so it's an opportunity for Dana and the kids to spend some time together and resolve their problems. The older kids naturally hate "roughing it", though the lodge at least has electricity and plenty of bedrooms.
But a couple of surprise discoveries await the family. Dana signs the papers but soon wishes she hasn't, as she wonders just what the company wants to do with her mountain. Plenty of clues exist to show just what that mountain has to offer, and soon the whole family--and Tom Kent, who seems to like Dana--set off on an adventure. Even the older kids start to get excited, and at least one of the kids learns that we may very well use that knowledge from school in real life.
This is mostly a lighthearted family movie to begin with, though the scene of Nigel coming after Henry may be upsetting to some. Later in the movie, there is plenty of danger that may remind some of the Indiana Jones movies. There are even skeletons--not exactly unexpected with this type of Native American cultural landmark. Thanks to children's imaginations and visual effects, the skeletons come to life and show us who they were.
But this is a movie the whole family can watch. And they should. The family learns important lessons and resolve issues. They also learn to work together instead of fighting.
Barry Bostwick does quite a good job as Uncle Henry. Kayla Carlson is a delight as the precocious younger sister. All the other leading actors do a good enough job.
I don't know the name of the actor playing Nigel, the leading villain, but he's quite intimidating, and not too intense for family viewing.
It's a worthy effort.
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