Tuck Everlasting (2002)
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Review Date: August 22, 2002
Director: Jay Russell
Writer: Jeffrey Lieber, James Hart
Producers: Marc Abraham, Jane Startz
Jonathan Jackson
Alexis Bleidel
Ben Kingsley
It's the turn of the century and a teenage girl on the verge of losing it, stuck under the thumb of her overbearing parents, wanders out into the forest and runs into a boy, who brings her home to meet his mom and dad. The snag? The dude and his family have been around for hundreds of years...you see, they drank from a stream that granted them eternal life. What's the new girl on the block going to do? Not sure but there's a creepy guy in an ugly, yellow suit sneaking around as well, so whatever she chooses to do, she better hurry!
It's not every day that I walk into an early morning Disney screening and walk out actually having enjoyed myself, but today was such a day and TUCK EVERLASTING actually turned out to be much better than its lame title suggested and definitely more enjoyable than the usual saccharine bonbons that Disney shoves up our...I mean, down our throats. That's not to say that the film isn't sappy in its own right, because it does have all of the heart-string elements checked off the list, but for me, they all worked and even though the end result isn't necessarily a movie that is going to have you tumbling over backwards in delight, it certainly does prove to be solid family fare, with a believable "love story", an interesting premise (if you could live forever...would you?) and pleasant scenery all around. One of the things that impressed me the most about this picture were its acting performances, most specifically, the two lead teens, played luminously by the great-looking Jonathan Jackson and the adorable Alexis Bledel, who I now want to marry. In fact, even if you were to remove all that stuff about "living forever" from the storyline, it's still a decent tale about growing up and falling for someone, and the two lead actors really brought out that pent-up energy, that passion and that much needed, chemistry. I truly bought into their relationship and therein, cared about their characters.

On the other hand, the set-up with the chick's one-dimensional family was a little shoulder-shruggable, but once things got going and into the Tuck household, I was pretty engaged the rest of the way. I also started thinking about how it could all have worked as an animated movie as well-in fact, I think it might've worked even better, since it really does have that magical quality about it, that mystery and that much-needed enigmatic "bad guy" sniffing about. Speaking of which, I really enjoyed Kingsley's performance as the "man in the shadows" as well, a character that provided the film with its required "dark side" (there are only so many scenes of the doting kids running through open plains and jumping into picturesque waterfalls that one man can take). The idea of "living forever" and its positive and negative consequences were also explored (although not as deeply as you might expect from a film made for more "mature" audiences), and I also liked how the big brother, who seemed to have a stick up his ass the whole time, broke down during one scene and explained why he was the way that he was (great performance as well and after hearing his sad tale...I can't say that I blame the guy for carrying around that sour puss). Now even though Sissy Spacek and William Hurt are being brandied about as the "stars" of this picture (Oscar-winning stars, no less), the truth is that they really don't make that great of an impact in the movie. The love story, the mystery man and the whole play on immortality are its core elements and with its quick pace and short runtime (90 minutes), this adaptation entertained me for the most part, even if it didn't necessarily stuff me whole. It is definitely more for families than anyone wanting to feel their girlfriend up on the weekend though. The Disney machine does the job this time around. PS: Love that suit, Ben...where can I get me one?
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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