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Dan Heller's Movie Review of "Tuck Everlasting"


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Ben Kingsley, Amy Irving, Alexis Bledel
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Disney's film, "Tuck Everlasting", is the latest adaptation from Natalie Babbitt's children's book about a girl who inadvertently stumbles upon a family of immortals, and learns important lessons on life and death, and making the most of the world she lives in.

The plot line is simple and traditional Disney fairy-tale lore - a young girl on the cusp of maturity, longs for a life outside the control of her domineering mother. When lost in the woods near her home, she happens upon Jesse Tuck, whose family has become immortal from a source of secret
Alexis Bledel
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magical waters. In order to preserve their life and home, they Tucks have remained hidden for over a hundred years. But, we soon learn that there are other, more philosophical reasons for their stealth - the notion that immortality can be a very painful prison sentence, and the rest of the world should be protected from discovering the spring of eternal life.

The theme of the film is superb, and it is presented thoughtfully. There is no over-bearing lectures or spoon-feeding of morality, and the audience can extrapolate the objectives of the characters on their own. The cinematography is ethereal and heavenly, evoking a sense of wonderment and calm that we all fantasize living in, if one were to choose an enchanted forest as a home.

Jonathan Jackson
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However, the film fails to directly address its true target audience. Either that, or it didn't really decide which one it wanted to serve. The character portrayals, dialog and behaviors are too sophisticated for a younger audience, who require a more animated and dramatic caricatures. I interviewed several children randomly after the film, and although all of them liked it, most had fallen asleep (it's a "quiet" film), and the others had completely missed the intended moral of the story. They thought it was about "making friends". Trying to communicate sophisticated ideas like "immortality" is difficult for children, since most people don't really understand or appreciate their own mortality until after adolescence.

Alexis Bledel, Jonathan Jackson
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Ironically, the adults I talked to liked the movie for the same reasons I did: it seemed like a nice, sweet film that touched upon a difficult subject lightly and gracefully, all while presenting beautifully aesthetic scenery. They also liked it because their kids did. However, from an adult perspective, the target audience was so young, that the characters were just a little too simple, the villain was a tad two-dimensional, and the lesson learned didn't evoke a sense of profundity, leaving me feeling it missed a better opportunity to be a more sophisticated drama.

Alexis Bledel, Jonathan Jackson
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In the end, the movie satisfied, but I came away with a sense that "Tuck Everlasting" tried to serve two masters, leaving it a tad on the bland side. This isn't the type of movie that should be so lukewarm, especially given a strong cast of four academy-award winning stars and a backer like Disney at the helm.

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