‘Never let your schooling get in the way of your education,’ is one of several good lines from Mark Twain; the American humourist liked to think outside the box when it came to ways of getting smart and staying that way. From the director of the fondly remembered doggie opus Dakota, Kirk Harris’ adventure story for family audiences similarly aims to ring a few changes on what we expect from a 2023 movie. it’s a cheerful, upbeat, inoffensive film that takes bits of Twain’s writing as a Da Vinci-Code/National Treasure thematic guide to finding a hidden treasure. So if you remember your formative reading years and the adventures of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, you’re in the right ballpark here.
‘That treasure is as real as the day is long…my great grandma helped me hide it!’ is the kind of clue we get here; a bunch of naughty students (including Dodge Prince, Deja Monique Cruz) set out to find the treasure that Twain’s books provide clues to, with mom Agatha (Joy Erickson), school principal Jenny Muncaster (Joey Lauren Adams) and a motely collection of characters; yes, there’s not only a talking cat called Mrs Mac, but a talking alligator as well. Ordinarily, I’m opposed to having CGI animals stealing acting jobs from real ones, but since neither alligators or cats can talk the way these ones can, I’ll let it pass on this occasion. Standing in their way is the dastardly AJ Harrison (Patrick Muldoon, a veteran of Dakota and good value as the hissable villain of the piece).
‘The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read them…’ is another wise Twain quote offered up by our narrator JJ (Alex Hyde-White) as he finishes another of his paintings; he’s our helpful guide to the series of scrapes our gang get into, with corrupt cops and all sorts standing in their way; if Dakota offered a withering assessment of the Georgia police department, then this film does much the same for Oklahoma’s finest. And although the treasure has clearly been inside all of us all along, Harris’ film at least doesn’t shirk on rewarding the kids for their adventures; the film-maker gets that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and makes sure his happy ending lands.
The outpouring of emotion at seeing one of the stars of the Goonies picking up a gong at the Oscars raises a question; if we love family adventure films so much, why don’t we actually make them anymore? Where are the Goonies of today? Humble in goal and amusing in conceit, The Quest for Tom Sawyer’s Gold is the kind of film highbrow critics seem to disdain, but exist for a reason; they’re all about the education you can’t get from schools or books. So with that in mind, get out your notebook, rucksack and magnifying glass, and let operation treasure hunt commence!
The Quest for Tom Sawyer’s Gold is out now on most good US streaming platforms. Thanks to Lionsgate for access.
Nothing wrong with a treasure hunt but could they not have found a part for Nic Cage. He had a pretty good gig going with the National Treasure franchise.
Nic seems to have plenty of exposure right now. Thought the Hyde White connection might have spurred some interest…
got me thinking about a remake of Face Off.
I bet it happens one day.
Give it to the john Wick director.
I really really want to say yep, but nope. sigh.
I know, I know, I’m dithering. Nep, or yope.
I really want to see this!! It’s possible I’ve outgrown it, but I’m going to give it a shot. Maybe I’ll find a kid somewhere I can drag along with me for credibility…..
This seems like it might be fun for kids. But I think I’ve outgrown it now.
Come on, turn that frown upside down! Get in touch with your inner child and just enjoy; you dodn’t see a talking cat every day, do you?
if we love family adventure films so much, why don’t we actually make them anymore?
Whoa there Scout, hold your horses. Don’t lump us viewers in with that execrable bunch of criminals known as the Hollywood Elite. They are the ones making these decisions, so ask them. And stop being afraid of looking paranoid and just admit they want to destroy all that is good.
stands down off of a soapbox *
Now, why does it remove the first asterix? That’s odd….
There is a reason for that, and it’s to do with the other function that an asterix has when you are toggling text.
I guess I should check that out. I never noticed it before. Has it always done that?
If I’m writing for other publications, I quite often have to style set; ie writing 3Bookstooge2 to put it into italics or bold type. I think it’s a WP misunderstanding thing.
great. One more particular thing about wp I have to deal with. Or I could just find an alternative to the asterix. That might be simpler.
yeah, doesn’t quite the same look…
I hear you, and I think deep down we agree. Audiences do want healthy films, particularly if that’s what we need for family viewing. I’m not sure you’ll every get a full confession from Hollywood as to their worst decisions; it’s enough for educated viewers to support all aspects of cinema.