Disney’s remake of Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a timely, literate and handsome film. However, the acting of the two leads fails to provide the electrifying and stirring mood that the tale deserves.
Elijah Wood stars as the roguish Huck Finn, living with the Widow Douglas (Dana Ivey). The film improves considerably once Huck encounters Jim (Courtney B. Vance), the runaway slave whose goal is to escape to the North and buy his family’s freedom. The two drifters strike up a unique friendship as they start their fateful journey down the Mississippi.
Scripter-director Sommers centers his narrative on the interracial friendship, providing a thorough examination of a morally complex bond. His direction, however, is uneven; the first half-hour is oddly flat and not very engaging. But helmer’s work improves as the film progresses.
Fortunately, the two central roles are surrounded by a marvelous ensemble of supporting actors: the brilliant Jason Robards and Robbie Coltrane as the King and the Duke, respectively, Ron Perlman as the nasty Pap Finn, Ivey as the Widow Douglas and Laura Bundy as the precocious Susan Wilks.
Despite its faults, Huck Finn is superior to Michael Curtiz’s 1960 or J. Lee Thompson’s 1974 efforts.