Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn DVD Review: Lost in Translation

Kids will like the latest filmed version of the adventures of Mark Twain’s classic characters, Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, but adults may be left wishing for more.

The film features some of the most memorable moments from Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom having to paint a white picket fence, he and Huck attending their own funeral, his romance with Becky Thatcher, and their getting lost in the cave. While it is fun to see these scenes depicted, there is something missing, some sense of urgency or mischief that leaves everything feeling a bit flat. The lead actors are fine – Joel Courtney as Tom Sawyer, Jake T. Austin (Wizards of Waverly Place, The Fosters) as Huckleberry Finn, Katherine McNamara as Becky Thatcher. It may be the fault of the director, Jo Kastner. But my suspicion is the fact that the project was filmed in Bulgaria. Some of the other charcaters are so obviously (and in the case of the school teacher, poorly) dubbed that the actors and the scenes never seem to quite come together. Add to that an almost unrecognizable Val Kilmer as Mark Twain, narrating the proceedings, and you have a slightly surreal take on an American classic.

The story follows Tom Sawyer and his best pal Huck Finn, whose pranks one night take them to a graveyard where they become witnesses to a murder by the sinister Injun Joe. The boys run away to an island to hide out, but when Tom hears that their friend Muff Potter is being framed for the crime he returns to help clear him and face down Injun Joe.

Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn is a single-disc DVD in widescreen format, with a running time of 91 minutes. The rating is PG-13 (parental guidance Suggested) for some mild violence. Extras include some other feature previews from VMI Worldwide and scene selection.

Tweens and fans of the Disney Channel will like seeing Austin as Huckleberry Finn. But their parents will still have to hold out hope for a definitive take on the classic character.

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Elizabeth Periale

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