(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Adventures of Huck Finn)
Doug (vo): Huck Finn is said by many to be one of the great American masterpieces, if not, the great American masterpiece. It's one of the most brilliant books ever written, and the line about going to Hell still sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it. Both children and adults can read the book and be incredibly moved by it. In my opinion, it's one of the greatest things ever written, which is why when a totally passable version comes along, like The Adventures of Huck Finn in 1993, I can acknowledge it was good, but, man, wish it was great. I feel like a story this good needs a director like Francis Ford Coppola or Stanley Kubrick, one of the big greats, instead of...you know, the guy who did the Mummy movies, and G.I. Joe, and Van Helsing, and...actually, it's kind of amazing this movie's as good as it is the more I think about it.
Story[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): Elijah Wood plays Huck Finn, and I'm just gonna say it, he is the best Huck Finn I've ever seen. The same way everyone jumped for excitement when they heard he was gonna play Frodo because that's such perfect casting, it's the same thing here. When I read the book, his face and voice is what pops in my head immediately. It's like Kevin Conroy and Batman, you just connect the two together. He's on the run from just about everybody for getting in all sorts of trouble. He makes a river raft for himself and floats on down the river, and makes a close friend with a runaway slave named Jim, played by Courtney B. Vance. Along the way, he comes across all sorts of strange characters, gets in a lot of close calls, both humorous and serious, and discovers not only the importance of friendship, but the importance of friendship during racial inequality.
Review[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): I feel like Roger Ebert summed up this movie best by saying, "It doesn't dwell on its message, but it doesn't ignore it either." Huck Finn is supposed to be as much fun as it is dramatic, they kind of feed into each other. It's like A Christmas Carol that way. You can't really appreciate the difficult stuff without the joyful stuff, and you can't really appreciate the joyful stuff without the difficult stuff.
(Various clips focusing on a combination between the story's serious moments and the lighter moments are shown)
Doug (vo): And it's there, it's just not there to the magnitude the book was. It's funny I brought up Batman earlier, because there is kind of a comparison here. Imagine if the only animated Batman movie you saw was Batman: SubZero, and this was your representation of Batman. It'd be good, it'd be fine, it's a decent movie, it has a lot of character and story, and it's good. But you know you could have gotten Mask of the Phantasm, one of the great Batman movies. I kind of feel the same here. The cheerful moments are very funny and upbeat, and the dramatic moments are very effective in the moment. I especially like the scenes when they're confessing their friendship to each other near the end. But I remember how shook to the core I was when I read that great speech that Huck said about how he'd rather go to Hell than turn in his best friend, because that's what he was taught. He was taught that God would damn him to Hell if he was on the side of a slave. And he was pretty much accepting that because this friendship with this human being was just so strong. Like I said, I still get goosebumps whenever I think back to that moment, and I just don't feel it here. Maybe because it is a Disney film, maybe because it is the guy who has done, let's face it, a lot lighter stuff in his career, or maybe it's because the movie needed to take some risks. And that's not something this director or Disney, at least at that time, was really well known for. It's a very safe Huck Finn story, and I feel like if this was really gonna leave a major impact, it needed to be a bit more daring. I'm not sure how, I mean, I'm not exactly a great filmmaker myself, but that's what I feel like was missing to have the same impact as the book. But with that said, it's still a decent adaptation.
(Clips focusing on Elijah Wood as Huck Finn are shown, as well as footage of the film's supporting characters)
Doug (vo): Elijah Wood I think is one of the Top 10 best child actors who ever existed, and he's a great grown-up actor, too, don't get me wrong. But child acting, giving the age and the world these kids have to grow up in, is a very different kind of animal. Throw on top of that time periods and accents. You look at something like Malcolm in the Middle, and those are great child actors as well, but you look at Huck Finn, and it's a completely different style. Yet Elijah Wood is always convincing and always charming. And, yes, it does help that he pretty much has anime eyes, which makes him even more expressive. This film also did a great job with its supporting cast. I mean, look at this. Robbie Coltrane, Ron Perlman, Anne Heche...Pete, these are all names that will become great character actors before they became really, really well known. And they lend so much personality to the film.
Final thought[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): So do I recommend it? Of course I do. But mainly for the acting. I feel that's where its real strength is. And everything else is...good. It's a decent telling. Honestly, I can't act like I've seen a ton of versions of Huck Finn. I mean, I just haven't heard of that one great one that everybody talks about, you know what I mean? But if you're interested in seeing a version that has some good performances, or if you have a kid that doesn't really want to read the book but really should know this story, this isn't a bad one to check out. Grab an oar and float on in.
(The film's final scene, showing Huck running off into the sunset, is shown)