Tuck Everlasting

Starring:
Alexis Bledel as Winnifred ‘Winnie’ Foster
William Hurt as Angus Tuck
Sissy Spacek as Mae Tuck
Jonathan Jackson as Jesse Tuck
Scott Bairstow as Miles Tuck
Ben Kingsley as Man in the Yellow Suit
Amy Irving as Mother Foster
Victor Garber as Robert Foster
Kosha Engler as Miles’ Wife
Elisabeth Shue as Narrator
Richard Pilcher as Constable

Special Features:
Audio Commentary With Director Jay Russell And Cast Members
Audio Commentary With Jay Russell And Screenwriter James Hart
“Lessons Of Tuck” – Viewing mode that couples the movie with opportunities to explore the film’s themes and issues with Jonathan Jackson, other cast members and regular kids
“A Visit With Natalie Babbitt” – Featurette with novel’s author

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Running Time: 90 Mins.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles

Synopsis:
This film is based on the novel by Natalie Babbitt.

In the early 1900′s, Winnie Foster is a young teenager who lives with her rich, domineering parents. Tired of her mother’s prim and proper ways, she longs to get out and have fun in the world.

One day while walking in the woods her father owns she becomes lost. There she encounters a young man by the name of Jesse Tuck and his family. The Tuck family has a secret that they don’t want Winnie to tell. It turns out that they are immortal. The source of their everlasting life is a spring flowing from an old tree. They keep her from returning home in order to make her see the necessity of keeping the spring a secret.

As Winnie’s family desperately searches for her, Winnie and Jesse begin to fall in love. However, the problem of eternal life and its implications isn’t the only thing threatening their blossoming romance. A man with a dark past knows the Tuck’s secret and will do anything to gain immortality for himself.

“Tuck Everlasting” is rated PG for some violence.

The Movie:
I wasn’t familiar with the original book or the movie before I viewed this DVD, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this entertaining story. It explores the themes of immortality in a slightly different package than you’d normally expect. Think the Disney version of “Anne of Green Gables” meets “Highlander”. (Nobody gets their head cut off.)

The movie is rather slowly paced, but it explores all the benefits and liabilities of living forever. The character Miles Tuck embodies the downside of it. While Jesse lives a carefree life exploring the world like Peter Pan, Miles has lived a lifetime and watched his wife and children die. He has also seen their family persecuted and fought in multiple wars unable to be hurt. The scene where he tells his life story is a pretty powerful moment in the film. Ben Kingsley’s character represents all those people in the world who crave immortality and will do anything for it. It quickly becomes apparent what a horrible thing eternal life would be in the hands of the wrong person. Life, death, nature, and responsibility are all explored in this story.

The cast is excellent in the film. Newcomer Alexis Bledel is pretty and charming as Winnie. She expresses both childlike innocence and maturity with her character. I’m sure she’ll go on into other impressive roles in the future. Jonathan Jackson is good as the teen heartthrob / Peter Pan-like Jesse. However, things do become a little creepy when his 104 yr old character starts a romance with a 15 yr old girl. Is he a dirty old man or what? Scott Bairstow is memorable as the world weary Miles Tuck. His dramatic moments are some of the more thought provoking in the film and you go from despising his character to being sympathetic for him in short order. Sissy Spacek is also fun as the mother longing for a female friend and John Hurt is good as the philosophical father.

The film has some beautiful scenery and the music is not only well done, it plays somewhat of a role in the plot. “Tuck Everlasting” looks and sounds great on the home theater system. The DVD is worth checking out.

The Extras:
The extras on this DVD are a bit of a mixed bag.

Audio Commentary With Director Jay Russell And Cast Members – This commentary wasn’t nearly as interesting as I’d hoped it would be. Russell dominates the conversations and the commentary rarely goes along with what’s happening on the screen. Most of the time they chat about acting, auditioning, or other general things. A couple of times they relate stories from the set like experiences hiking to locations and such, but this seems rare.

Audio Commentary With Jay Russell And Screenwriter James Hart – This commentary was slightly more interesting. Russell and Hart talk about adapting the novel, collaborating with Babbitt, and more. The two apparently felt free to depart from the novel when necessary. They also reveal that they filmed multiple endings for the movie. Why those endings aren’t included on this DVD is beyond me. They would have been interesting to see. Anyway, this commentary sticks a little more to the movie than the cast commentary does.

“Lessons Of Tuck” – When this mode is activated, the movie will occasionally stop and Jonathan Jackson will introduce a short segment on lessons from the film. They include discussions on responsibility, maturity, immortality, and more. There are discussions with the cast, crew, author, and random teenagers. In the end, you feel like you’re watching an After School Special. The discussions are a bit heavy if you’re only interested in light entertainment and it frequently gets boring hearing teenagers spout their philosophy on life.

“A Visit With Natalie Babbitt” – This is probably the most interesting of the Extras features. The author of Tuck Everlasting talks about her life, how she got into writing, and how she developed her ideas for her numerous novels. Unfortunately, she only briefly talks about Tuck Everlasting, but it’s an interesting, though brief documentary.

The Bottom Line:
“Tuck Everlasting” is an entertaining movie, but the DVD extras don’t do much for the viewing experience unless you’re into philosophy or you want to write a book report on the novel.

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