In Missouri, during the 1840s, young Huck Finn fearful of his drunkard father and yearning for adventure, leaves his foster family and joins with runaway slave Jim in a voyage down the Mississippi River toward slavery free states.
Courtney B. Vance,
The adventure unfolds as Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn - Tom's friend from the streets - witness a murder in the graveyard. Tom and Huck flee to Jackson Island and make a pact never to tell anyone about the incident. However, when the good-natured Muff Potter, who has been blamed for the murder is sentenced to death by hanging, Tom breaks his promise and returns to exonerate Muff Potter. In jun Joe, the actual murderer, makes a hasty exit from the courtroom during the trial. A short time later, Tom and Huck find references to a treasure and have to face In jun Joe again. Written by
Mark Twain's classic story destroyed in a train-wreck of a movie
I love the Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn stories, and have collected as many filmed versions as possible, including updated ones. When this DVD appeared, I had high hopes of its content because of the presence of Jake T. Austin & Joel Courtney, both likable and very capable young actors. Oh dear, what a mess it turned out to be, adapted and directed by Jo Kastner from Germany, and filmed in Bulgaria. It was clear from the start that Kastner had little cultural grasp on Mark Twain's small town, mid-West American world in the middle of the 19th Century, nor any grasp whatsoever of pace and depth in presenting the characters and story. It is an express train journey through "Tom Sawyer", with a bit of "Huckleberry Finn" pointlessly stuck on the end, with no time to explore or indulge in the unfolding scenes. The inclusion of Val Kilmer (doubtless for "star" appeal) portraying the author Mark Twain wasted valuable time which should have gone into the main plot.
Whilst Joel Courtney did his smiling best in the role of Tom Sawyer, Jake T. Austin played Huckleberry Finn at best with detachment if not actually in a continuous sulk, perhaps aware of the poor material he was made to perform and unhappy being in Bulgaria, a backward Eastern European country far away from the Mississippi. Katherine McNamara was a poor choice as Becky Thatcher, and the rest of the casting was a mess, not least an insipid Injun Joe. The 2011 German language "Tom Sawyer" film is infinitely more enjoyable, even with the language barrier, and if you want a highly watchable and authentic telling of "Tom Sawyer", the 1938 film starring Tommy Kelly holds up very well, as does the semi-musical version from 1973 starring Johnny Whitaker. In short, avoid this German/Bulgarian disaster movie like you would food poisoning.
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