Tall Tale (1995) Poster

(1995)

User Reviews

Review this title
32 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
8/10
In the flavor of true Tall Tales
greyhwk18 October 2005
Unlike the prior poster, I loved this movie. It is a great family movie that is based on the Tall Tales that many of us learned in literature classes. If you know who Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, or John Henry are, you will find those heroes here. If you don't, what better way to learn about some of American histories classic Tall Tale characters that once put a sense of pride in being American. It was obvious that they took the time to find very fitting actor for each role. The script was written to make it a definite family movie suitable for any family. When the movie ends, you feel satisfied that you saw a good movie and not left with an "oily" feeling like you were just slimed like many of the movies do today. The story is that of a boy and his family about to lose their farm to a railroad tycoon in the early 1900s, something that did happen back then. The American Tall Tale characters are brought in one at a time to help the boy through the situation and teach him the way of being a man, with respect.
16 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
8/10
Relax and enjoy - tall tales aren't meant to be believed!
Pat-11813 March 1999
This is a Disney family movie, and the lead character is 12 years old. This means that the target audience is still in grade school, and the moral lesson is as subtle as Paul Bunyan's blue ox. But if you're willing to relax and put on your mouse ears, you might enjoy seeing Pecos Bill ride a cyclone and John Henry compete with a steam engine. The barroom scene with Calamity Jane is a treat for lovers of Old West humor, and Texas son Patrick Swayze is perfectly cast as Pecos Bill. Sadly for us, his gorgeous looks are all but hidden under his mustache, prairie dust, and 10-gallon hat.
10 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
8/10
Good Lightweight Adventure
ccthemovieman-11 June 2007
I expected some sort of supernatural-type hero story with he likes of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and Jhn Henry, but this movie was more like a regular adventure. It reminded me, in some respects, of an adventure out West such as White Fang. It was that kind of story.

The kid in here, "Daniel Hackett," played by Nick Stahl, was a little annoying for awhile, the typical snotty kid they like to show in the movies, but came to his senses by the end and wound up a decent kid who respected the people he was supposed to respect.

Meanwhile, all the characters including bad-guy "J.P. Stiles" (Scott Glenn) were a lot of fun not only to watch but to listen to, with some good dialog.

In all, it was lightweight fun and a good adventure story rolled into one. Patrick Swaze was a hot as "Pecos Bill" and Oliver Platt equally fun as "Paul Bunyan," and who doesn't admire big "John Henry" (Roger Aaron Brown)?

Why this is not available (at least in Region 1) on DVD is a mystery to me. It's just a fun movie - pure escapism for more than just kids.
15 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
10/10
Excellent Film for older children and adults.
probi4977922 November 2005
I thought this movie was excellent for older children and adults. Tall tales are such a large part of our culture and others as well. Sometimes a person has to make a stand to protect his or her way of life and I think this movie does that in a way that is easy to interpret. It would also stay in our minds as a life lesson. Rosa Parks stood alone on that bus in Montgomery, AL. The boy in this movie took a stand too. He never hurt anyone either. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took a stand without any violence and look what happened! The boy's father was an inspiration to his son. Our youth of today need these things. They need someone to look up to by example. I'd highly recommend this movie for all ages! I watched it twice in one day and will do so again and again.
15 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
But it's for the kids!
keakakui7 February 2004
I am only commenting on this "movie" because of previous criticisms listed above. This "film" was never in cinema houses because it was produced as a children's special for HBO. It's really too bad that others can't manage to see it through the eyes of its intended audience: a seven-year-old who is enthralled by the likes of Patrick Swayze, Oliver Platt, Scott Glenn, Catherine O'Hara, Roger Aaron Brown, Scott Wilson, William H. Macy and Burgess Meredith acting out his/her favorite childhood stories. Come on! Who WOULDN'T have fun watching this cast? I, for one, am glad that there is still mindless, FUN entertainment for children to watch in between the movies we adults view that are full of explosions, blood, gore and full frontal nudity. I'm certainly no prude, and I don't even HAVE children -- I just remember fully what it was like to be a child!
16 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
9/10
A favorite of mine
10thRingWraith10 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'm now 18 and this movie remains a favorite of mine. I watch it so much my parents urge me to watch other films.

The film takes place in the American West in 1905. A young boy named Daniel Hacket doesn't believe his father is doing the right thing when he passes up an opportunity to sell the family farm for purely sentimental reasons. He also doesn't believe all the tall tales his father tells him of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyun and Jonn Henry.

He is later entrusted with the deed to the farm by his father who then gets critically injured.

The villain of this film, Mr. Stiles, won't rest until he has every deed to Paradise Valley, the area where the Daniel lives.

Daniel falls asleep in a boat and is carried off. When he awakes he is rescued by none other than Pecos Bill himself. Daniel is determined to get home to take care of his family. Pecos decides to help him. Along the way they meet Paul Bunyun and John Henry. They also must struggle to avoid Stiles and his men who are hot on their trail.

On the journey, Daniel sees why the land is so important to his father and finds himself fighting for it just as hard.

I find this to be a charming and heart warming film. It must have been fun for the actors to portray those great American legends. I, personally, could not see anyone else in those roles. I would have liked to see a bit more of Calamity Jane.

Here's to the Code!
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
7/10
A Darned Good Tall Tale...
bruceellman27 July 2003
A well made Family movie in the "Field of Dreams" mold. Instead of baseball legends a boy receives aid from some legends of the Old West-- Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze), Paul Bunyon (Oliver Platt), John Henry (Roger Allen Brown), and Calamity Jane (Catherine O'Hara!). The talented game cast sells this sometimes hokey movie well. It's definitely worth a rent if it ever becomes available on home video though it can often be found on cable.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
5/10
say what?
mandasjunk_128 September 2005
I totally dug this movie when I was a kid (like 7 or 8 or 9 years old). I had it on tape and my sister, cousins, and I watched it all the time. It's certainly no blockbuster or award winning picture, but it's still fun for kids (it was for me anyway). I remember liking how these story characters I was familiar with, were all linked together in the story and were (kind of) brought to life. Anyway, I guess it's just personal preference, but I remember digging it, and to say that no child got anything out of this silly movie would be wrong. I can't really remember the story too much now, to be honest, (it's been so long), but just thinking about it made me smile, and I am seriously tempted to go out and rent it for my nephews. It's only a dollar or two, and even if it doesn't pack the same punch it did when I was little, I'm sure I would enjoy seeing it again, and I'm sure my nephews might enjoy it too.
9 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
Wild West Wizard of Oz
s-rosse25 April 2003
Disney has retold (again) the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this time with a male protagonist, Paul Bunyan as the Cowardly Lion, John Henry as the Tin Woodman, and Pecos Bill as the Scarecrow. I saw this movie for the first time today with my 8-year-old son, and as cheesy as this sounds, I know we will both remember this day forever. If you aren't the father of a small boy, take a hike. You don't have a clue. But if you are the father of a small boy, go to the public library's children's room and get this movie pronto. And if, like me, you're an old movie propman, get ready to enjoy some of the nicest set dressing and model work you've seen for a long, long time. I wish I had that train on my resume.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
10/10
Tall Tale Review
sbailey7-820-7823611 December 2013
Written by Steve Bloom and Robert Rodat, and directed by Ornie Orsatti, Tall Tale stars Nick Stahl, Patrick Swayze, and Scott Glenn. Released in 1995 this Action/Adventure film takes place in an old western town at the start of the twentieth century and focuses on the modernization of America.

In 1905, Daniel Hackett (Nick Stahl) lives with his mother and father on the farmlands of Paradise Valley. As the film progresses the audience learns that Daniel is growing sick of his life on the farm and expresses his bitterness to his father, Jonas. Daniel's father tells him repetitive stories of folk heroes, Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry, in whom Daniel no longer believes. Meanwhile, J.P. Stiles (Scott Glen) enters town with his gang of wealthy men and his modern machinery with intent of buying the land in order to develop it. When Jonas stands up to stiles and refuses to sell his land he ends up being shot, but not before he hands the deed to his land to Daniel.

Jonas survives but is badly injured, Daniel meanwhile runs and hides in his boat, where he falls asleep. When he wakes he finds himself in a dried up lake bed in Texas, where two men try to rob and kill him, only to be rescued by legendary cowboy Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze). The two of them later meet up with famous lumberjack Paul Bunyan and ex-slave John Henry. The team gets into a tough battle with Stiles, whose greediness threatens the strength of the folk tales and the livelihood of the farmers.

The acting by the Stahl, Swayze, and Glen was very impressive. They were able to capture the feel of the early Midwest and made the audience feel as if they were part of the story. The compelling acting brought out the excitement of the folk lures that every child reads when growing up. Gender clearly played a large part in casting actors for the film because men play all of the dominant roles. This can be attributed to the fact that women didn't have a large role outside of the home during this time period and unfortunately there are not many women folk heroes.

The costume design and set design also played large roles in creating a convincing story. The costumes were dead on for what viewers would imagine Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry to look and dress like. The costumes really brought out the feeling that this film was based in the early Midwest and the set was designed perfectly to give the feeling that the audience is involved in a folk story. For example Paul Bunyan's log home was exactly what you would imagine it to be, along with his blue ox, Babe.

I would highly recommend this film, as I have loved it since I was a child. It is a great movie for children and for families, and should be watched by anyone who enjoys adventure films.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
7/10
It's a Kids' Movie, for Cryin' Out Loud!
pberrigan22 October 2005
Just finished watching this with my kids and they whooped it up and acted it out all over the living room floor. Yes, it may have some drawbacks, but it's for kids, who won't necessarily notice those things, unless their kill-joy parents point them out. What in the world is wrong with having a little fun? The movie was a great way to introduce my kids to the folk tales of our country in an engaging, comical way. They recognized the names, but the stories that went with them. I guess folk tales are going the way of nursery rhymes. And it kept their attention for the hour-and-a-half or so that the movie ran. And considering that we rented the movie on a lark, I do believe we got our money's worth, pardner!
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
10/10
A smart, ambitious, deadly serious American film about America.
dale-haynes7 August 2012
In 1995 my cinema taste ran to pretentiously dark. I've since outgrown that, and this underrated gem is one of the reasons why. After ignoring it because of the fun-for-the-whole-family Disney marketing, we discovered it on video. Tall Tale is neither lightweight nor pure escapism. It was co-written by Robert Rodat who a few years later wrote Saving Private Ryan and The Patriot, and is every bit as serious. My wife attributes the "lightweight" dismissal/compartmentalization to the fact that it's dangerous. Considering the covert-overt indictment of greed-saturated America it slips into the hands of children and generally corrupt, complicit parents, I'd have to agree. Such iconic American legends as Pecos Bill are its patriotic measuring point. The family-film presentation is true to the Code championed by those legends: Protect the land, defend the defenseless, and don't never spit in front of women nor children. The script hands us the cognitive key: Just 'cause it's a TALL tale don't mean it ain't TRUE. By 1995 America was simply too far gone to cherish this. Ignoring it as a consumer remains my worst big-screen mistake. Kudos to Mr. Rodat, the director, the cinematographer for gorgeous moments, Randy Edelman --- his score for the scene of the farm horse abandoned in harness by a farm-hating boy is fleetingly but heartbreakingly perfect --- and to the project's rebel (distracted? shallow?) Disney VP. The scene in which Pecos emerges, like heroic resolve itself, from the midst of a richly diverse public that has F I N A L L Y come together to nobly stand against the takeover by predatory eastern greed and its hired guns --- Rodat's script does not favor a disarmed populace --- deftly fulfills the principle of showing not saying it. This is a beautiful, ambitious, patriotic alarm contained in a suitable-for-children and therefore subversive valentine to a Western American dream that was worth fighting for. All that and veteran character actor Burgess Meredith bidding a suckered-and-proud-of-it boy (us) farewell. See this serious as a heart attack film --- we get a horrific prophetic vision, in a scene that is Hell on Wheels not Little Red Caboose, of a subjugated West whose workers are getting additional productivity squeezed out of them (to use a post-Bailout euphemism) with literal whips --- before or after the documentary Inside Job. Speaking of hired guns, Wall Street and the Business Roundtable, America's unelected, voter-unaccountable rulers with politicians in their pockets, have a vested interest in popular media as both profit sector and opinion influencer. They have agents "in the field" and the field now prominently includes cyberspace. Do not be deceived. That this deeply patriotic lament/warning is fit for children older than perhaps 7 --- a 12-year-old boy is propositioned by a pathetically degraded woman then nearly killed by a knife-wielding Wall Street hatchet man and former farmer (played presumably as written with non-cartoonish touches of passionate hate, cold honesty, restrained pride with demanding eastern bosses, and even a flash of tenderness by Scott Glenn) --- does not make it lightweight. It makes it brilliant. And convicting. Embarrassing in a way. Pecos Bill, Calamity Jane, free man John Henry, and Paul Bunyan are what many used to want America, at least the American West, to be: an America standing morally tall. Truly free, truly brave. Not a shark tank, casino, and pharoah-slave pyramid whose slaves admire the pharoahs preying on them more than each other. At least I've got the movie. To the Code!
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
8/10
Superbly Crafted And Intelligent Family Cinema
johnstonjames2 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
i've always felt this movie was far better than it's critical and overall reputation. even the Disney studio and Disney fans seem to neglect and ignore it. too bad because it's so well made and intelligent that it should be appreciated more than it is.

a almost virtually unrecognizable Patrick Swayze gives a powerful and memorable performance that i think is one of the best of his career and one of the best Pecos Bill interpretations. all the performances here are well done, but it is Swayze's "Pecos" that stands out.

director Jeremiah Chechik gives the film a elegant look that is unusually refined for family films of this kind. not to mention a effective sense of history. the photography and set design are imaginative and stylized and convey American wild west history with good authenticity. especially notable is the design of Scott Glen's villain's ominous looking train.

the film also amusingly and accurately, conveys these early American legend stories fear of progress and the machine/industrial age, that was such a common theme with stories like 'Paul Bunyan' and 'John Henry'.

so much of this is so well done that you almost hate to quibble about it but i feel it does have a basic flaw. i think the film is probably too refined and intelligent. because of that, somehow they forgot to breathe a little more life into the whole thing. the film feels a bit more cold and detached than a wild western adventure really should. i can't believe i'm saying this, but the film should have been a little more "dumbed down". it could use a little more silliness to it because of it's fanciful subject matter. Walt Disney himself wasn't always worried about seeming anti-intellectual or using common slap stick which is evident from the approach often given earlier Disney live action films.

but i am glad for the intelligent approach here and the film definitely captures the spirit and essence of American frontier legends.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
10/10
Sweet, innocent, and wholly satisfying!
lindsey_konrad28 April 2006
I saw this movie years ago when it came to the theater in my small hometown in northern Saskatchewan. It was my sister's birthday and I decided to treat her to "a night on the town," which basically consisted of a trip to our one-screen theater! Armed with our popcorn and twizzlers, we sat down to one of the most enjoyable movies either of us had ever seen. (We still talk about it and it was almost ten years ago!) All of our favourite fairy tale characters came to life and were transported to a place where heroes lived and dreams came true. For all the cynics out there, take a moment and remember what it was like to read the stories by Hans Christian Anderson and others and how they transformed the world around you and made you believe in the world of the imagination. Then watch this movie again and see it for what it is; a child's imagination on-screen. For the actors in this movie, thank you for showing us that there is a world of innocence out there and for reminding us that entertainment doesn't have to be bloodthirsty. It's nice to know there are movies out there that my niece and nephew can watch from start to finish without an adult having to reach for the fast-forward button.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
4/10
Not an underachiever, but not a robust, hearty family flick either...
moonspinner5530 October 2005
Disney fantasy set in Old West America at the turn of the century: young farm boy, imaginative but unhappy, dreams up Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and John Henry when the family farming home is threatened by a slimy land-developer. Derivative story goes all the way back to "The Wizard of Oz" for ideas, with Scott Glenn playing a sort of Wicked Witch, all dressed in black. Other cast members (Patrick Swayze, Oliver Platt, and Nick Stahl) do commendable work, but film lacks real emotion and depth. It looks good, however, and its heart is certainly in the right place. Not the popular, rousing family affair that the Disney folks probably hoped it would be, though. *1/2 from ****
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
5/10
Rather Disappointing
gavin694215 October 2017
A young boy draws on the inspiration of legendary western characters to find the strength to fight an evil land baron in the old west who wants to steal his family's farm and destroy their idyllic community.

Director Jeremiah S. Chechik brought us "national Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (a classic) and "Benny and Joon" (a cult hit), and then this. Despite a great cast, it just sort of flops around and goes nowhere. The plot really ought to be: kid hangs out with legendary figures, ruins their lives. Why they put up with him is beyond me.

One of the more disappointing things, actually, is how little we get of Calamity Jane. For me, if I had Catherine O'Hara on my payroll, I would find a way to expand her part. But I guess not. I will give them credit for Paul Bunyan, though, as their interpretation is certainly unique.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
4/10
This Tall Tale goes on for far too long...
Rich Wright8 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Tall Tale is a pretty dumb film, and contains an UNFORGIVABLE 'twist' 15 minutes from the end... But at least you can't accuse it of lacking imagination.

Apart from in the set-up, that is. A land-hungry baron during the Ol' West wants to buy up the property of nearby farmers. If they refuse to comply, he has his army of goons to do his dirty work for him. Guess what happens to the only farmer to protest this policy... And guess who 'inherits' the deeds to the land so he can go on a 'mystical quest' with them, to hide from the baddies. That's right... His 12 year old son.

En route, he befriends great figures of American legend... Such as Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and John Henry. Nope, I haven't heard of any them either... But then again, I am merely an uneducated Brit. Together, they encounter bandits, get lost in a desert and arrested by Calamity Jane. Ever get the feeling some writers pick out random events from a hat, rather than bother with a concise story?

As the music reaches a crescendo constantly (but fails to inspire) and the evil dudes chew the scenery (but fail to intimidate), you wonder what this is all working towards. Well, having reached a dead end with their shaggy dog story of a screenplay, the people behind this mess pull the old 'IT WAS ALL A DREAM' cliché just before the credits roll... And then, fail to even follow through on that miserable old plot device.

So, in a final confrontation that even defies the pathetic logic set up by the makers, you wonder: Just what is the moral here?

It's a good thing to risk your life for a farm, which is probably going to kill you through stress and overwork anyway?

Fictional figures from history will save your bacon when all else fails (I'm thinking Bill & Ted did that one better)?

Or maybe, when you're on a roll career-wise it's best to choose your roles more carefully... Because no matter how far up the hill you are, you can always come tumbling down? (Not mentioning any names... *Swayz..* AHEM... Bad cough I've got there)...

Yeah, let's go with that one. 4/10
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
9/10
The most underrated Disney film ever!
eragonbookfan12 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This has been my favourite "Western" film since I was a youngster, and it will continue to be.

Where... do... I... begin...???? This is my favourite Disney film of all-time!

I'm a mixed foreigner from Japan, and I feel like one of the PRIVILEGED people who got to see this movie! It's an educational film for those studying American Tall Tales.

This is a Disney Drama Classic!! It has many big Hollywood names in it! Nick Stahl, Patrick Swayze, Oliver Platt, Scott Glenn, Stephen Lang, etc... why isn't this film more popular!??? They ALL play such memorable & much better roles than in the overrated & nonsensical movies they're mostly known for. I was really hoping for Doug Walker to review this film during his last "Disneycember" (yeah I know)

Great family movie, with a great story, and good morales, too! I actually learned a lot from this film. Great father-son story-arc in this, it could really likely make son's bonds with their father's stronger! ;)

And in my book, it seems quite Biblical too, with the facts that 3 legendary characters, Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, & John Henry are sent to help this boy, Daniel Hackett; they're somewhat like 3 GUARDIAN ANGELS (since the Number "3" appears quite a lot in the Bible). Also, Randy Edelman's score for the film is *especially* underrated! He deserves an Oscar nomination for SOMETHING!

A *MUST SEE*!!!

9/10

PS: Quite ironic too that the director also directed the movie that's universally considered bad, "The Avengers" (1998)
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
6/10
Great family movie
jfarms19566 April 2013
This film is geared to those who are young or young at heart. The movie takes one through an enchanting tale. It is a good all around family movie. The movie takes us through some American mythical characters who we can reminisce about such characters as Pecos Bill. It is light hearted fun and keeps one interested as to what will happen next. It is a good film to eat popcorn or have pizza with. Good musical scores with the film, wholesome and uplifting. This is a film when after its over, it leaves you with a good feeling. You may not remember each and everything. But the feeling is like after a cup of hot chocolate -- you don't remember every sip, but the good feeling sticks. In fact, you can watch it again a month later and just enjoy the feeling all over again. I give it a six thumbs up out of ten.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
5/10
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
wes-connors26 November 2010
"Superstar Patrick Swayze stars as gun-slinging, tornado-riding cowboy legend Pecos Bill in Disney's most rousing Western adventure yet. Summoned by the imagination of a young boy, Pecos sets out to help the lad save the family farm from a greedy land-grabber. Teaming with two other larger-than-life heroes - a mighty lumberjack and a hulking railroad worker - they embark on an incredible journey where danger and surprises await at every turn. Packed with plenty of rollicking action and visual effects, untamed adventure doesn't ride any faster or shoot any straighter than 'Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventure'!"

"Tall Tale" is a competent, unabashed re-envisioning of "The Wizard of Oz" (1939).

But, they went down the wrong yellow brick road by retrofitting it to the American West of 1905 - with folk heroes "Pecos Bill" (standing in for the Scarecrow), "Paul Bunyan" (the Cowardly Lion), and "John Henry" (the Tin Man) made more ordinary than they were even in the old adventures told before the arrival of radio, television, and motion pictures. No wizard, no munchkins. Not surprisingly, viewers in 1995 were interested in more modernized heroics. Most exciting scene has young Nick Stahl (as Daniel) standing up to a train driven by Scott Glenn (The Wicked Warlock of the West). Don't surrender, Daniel!

***** Tall Tale (3/24/95) Jeremiah S. Chechik ~ Nick Stahl, Patrick Swayze, Oliver Platt, Roger Aaron Brown
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
8/10
A motivating film, worth seeing. Warning: Spoilers
Motivation is very important, always , but to Daniel Hackett a boy who hates the farm his father is giving his life for, mythological characters like Pecos Bill, John Henry and Paul Bunyan are just big lies. They are not real, but their courage and determination and the motivation they give, are as real as it gets, and they are going to make quite a man out of that boy. John Henry will compete with a steam powered hammer, Pecos Bill will ride a tornado, and Paul Bunyan has a blue ox sidekick (with whom he once dug the Grand Canyon). Pecos has a great black horse, the Widowmaker. Scott Glenn is J. P. Stiles one of the baddest guys you will ever meet and Patrick Swayze is an excellent Pecos Bill. A motivating film, worth seeing.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
7/10
How come this isn't better known?
Bill-45424 September 2008
I'd put this in the same category as THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO, a true family movie: there's something anyone can relate to, but with some hokey flaws that ultimately don't matter.

There are so many great parts to it, that it's a shame that some of the editing and a few character blunders are handled so badly.

The John Henry competition is pretty much thrown away, just because of some bad editing.

The bad guy is an out-of-place cartoon, supposedly in the "real world" but seems like a fugitive from THE WILD, WILD WEST. He is pitted against the well-drawn characters of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry and Calamity Jane, all of whom start out as cartoons, then are cleverly nuanced. I could have used more Catherine O'Hara.

Speaking of which, William H. Macy is pretty much wasted too.

I won't spoil the ending, but I think they knew that they DID have a great ending that could survive lots of mis-steps. So don't tune out before the end.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
10/10
a movie that allows you to return to your childhood
orange-girl8717 January 2006
Tall Tale: A movie that tells a tale of a boy growing up in the 1800's. Cars were just coming into fashion (his interest was what got him into all this trouble in the first place). It goes on, into the Sahara Desert, through fights with bad guys, standing up to Paul Bunyan (one of the best quotes of the movie is at this point), basically any sort of adventure you can imagine! While the message is aimed at children, it can be useful for adults, too- loyalty, friendship- and it's not preachy. It has many adventures, and a damn fine blue ox to boot! Patrick Swayze's dry humor is perfect for the role, as are the roles of Paul Bunyan and John henry equally well played. The young kid did a great job too- it must have been AWESOME to ride that horse!!! If someone is looking for a lighthearted adventure, Tall Tale is the movie for you!!!!!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
2/10
Possibly the most confusing movie I have ever seen
Chromium_526 January 2006
First of all, the casting is perfect. That's the one good thing I can say about this movie. Patrick Swayze, Oliver Platt, and Roger Aaron Brown make the most of their characters and have great chemistry together. Swayze is particularly hilarious as a tough-as-nails Pecos Bill. But the rest of this movie is a disaster. It has almost NO plot, and what little shreds of a plot it has are ridden with holes. I'll explain.

You see, there's this guy Stiles who wants to buy up all the land in a community. So he holds a town meeting promising to give people vast sums of money in return for their land. Everyone is positively giddy about it, until this guy Jonas stands up and makes a touching speech about how the land is their heritage and it would be a sin to sell. Everyone gets on his case about it, and he concludes with, "Well, I ain't selling." Then what happens? Do they discuss it further? Does Stiles resume the meeting? No! Everyone just gets up and LEAVES! The meeting isn't even adjourned; they all just... walk out of the building! Did they forget what they were doing? Do they have Attention Deficit Disorder? Someone please explain this scene to me.

Now, if I remember correctly, Stiles is so mad about Jonas ruining his meeting that he does the logical thing and... shoots Jonas. At the last minute, Jonas's son Daniel gets ahold of the deed to their land and runs away with it, because Stiles will stop at nothing to snatch it right out of his hands (a tried-and-true legal tactic). Daniel runs away and falls asleep in a boat. Then he dreams about being in the Old West with Pecos Bill. Then he wakes up, and Stiles tries to run him over with a train. Suddenly all the townspeople are on his side and he gets to keep the deed. It's all very confusing.

What a dumb movie. 2/10 stars.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
10/10
Ode To Walt
tesstunes19 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Let me take you on a trip to the late 60's. When Movie theaters only had one giant screen and a few hundred uncomfortable seats that housed the future of America. A thick pack of licorice in one hand and a movie sized candy bar in the other. A monster cola between the knees insured the blessed arrival of the sugar coma fairy before movies end.

The cool kids sat in the balcony, and it was just plain survival of the fittest to the front rows by the screen. If even two of your friends survived the mêlée to the front row with you it was a miracle. Typically when your parents arrived to ask you how the movie was, someone in your party was sure to say "so and so, got to sit in the front row!"

America in its innocence (good or bad) dropped their children off for the double feature that usually ran on Saturday afternoon. With evidence that anarchy could indeed survive in places, the roar of the room continued all the way through the cartoon that preceded the movie (typically our old pal Jimney Cricket singing "I'm no fool, no siree").

Then, as the first feature appeared the music would thunder into the room, tinker-bell would wave her wand and color would overwhelm your senses. The room became silent as everyone prepared. This was the magic and the miracle of Disney. For the next few hours you would be transported to a place where people sang instead of spoke, where villains were easy to spot and the good guy was small and scared and helpless, just like you.

That said, what a delight it was to stumble upon Disney's Tall Tale this afternoon. Just 43 year old me in a recliner, laptop pushed aside and housework not going anywhere until movies end.

I only half watched until the father began retelling the tales to his son. I thought HEY, I remember those characters! Of course Swayze had me hook line and sinker within 5 minutes on screen. So ruggedly handsome and confident, I knew I wasn't going anywhere. *S

Being from Minnesota, I felt actual anticipation when I realized they were going to introduce us to Paul Bunyan! I envisioned some buff blonde with a dazzling smile, some more greedy eye candy to accompany Patrick, I suppose. As the movie progressed, I understood why Paul's character had to portray more of a gruff Uncle. You know, the one that messes up your hair instead of hugs you when he sees you. Something Platt does brilliantly with very little dialog. The sunglasses added to the costume in the desert scene finally made him Paul Bunyan to me.

Speaking of eye candy, that smile on Brown had to be the deciding factor that he was cast as John Henry. He appeared illuminated with joy. He introduces the subplot to the theme "You don't know unless you try". And drives home the point by losing the contest despite his best efforts with a winning smile and the decision to try again later.

Can't quite tell if Calamity Jane was chopped up after the fact or if she was set to make a token appearance from the start. The Don't mess with Texas bit was hilarious, but I think it cost us spending time hearing Jane's story. In fact I think it would've been funnier to have that same guy get a beating from HER for being inappropriate.

In closing, I don't like someone's Wizard of Oz analogy at all. The trio in that movie are missing key elements that will help them defeat their enemies and arrive safely home. No, our hero's here possess the key elements that represent determination, tenacity and ingenuity all in allegiance with "the code" which is integrity.

Finally, the true hero here is our own Walt Disney. Who continues to leave his signature after he's long gone. Always reminding us that if we use our imagination life can be bigger, bolder and more beautiful, that sometimes it's better to sing instead of speak and he'll keep that place for us where the good guys always win.

I'd love to see this piece redone big budget for the big screen!
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!
Copied to clipboardCopy link
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed