Reviewed March 5th, 2003 by Dan Jones
“Don't be afraid of death Winnie, be afraid of the unlived life.”
Tuck Everlasting is a fairly simple tale. We have a young girl name Winnie (played by Alexis Bledel) whom while running through her rich families many acres, stumbles upon a secret family, the Tucks. She soon falls in love with one of the Tucks, a boy named Jesse (Jonathan Jackson), who is, as she soon finds out, perpetually 17 years old. Yes, it seems the Tucks are a family of immortals, having drank from a spring that was in actuality a fountain of youth. So now Winnie must decide if she wants to continue on with her new found love and become immortal herself by drinking from the spring, or choose to live her life as is, grow older, and eventually die.
Of course Winnie’s family becomes distraught at the loss of their daughter and assigns a man to find her. This “man in the yellow suit”, played by Ben Kingsley, becomes the villain of the film, bent on exposing the Tucks and using their fountain of youth for his own gain.
Tuck Everlasting is a pretty good Disney film. At times the film might come off a little pretentious or heavy-handed in its dialogue and characters, sometimes trying to hard to push a subject into the viewer’s mind, but overall the film does a good job of discussing the importance of living and dying, and the idea of not fearing death. It makes the viewer truly think about this often-discussed plot line (would you want to live forever?) and provides a good theme for children to grasp onto.
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen this is a great looking transfer. The film has exceptional cinematography throughout as well as lush settings and this transfer displays it all with great vibrancy and detail. There’s really nothing bad to be said about this transfer; I noticed neither compression artifacts nor any problems with the source used. Truly a very nice job.
As for audio, we’re given a fairly solid 5.1 Dolby Digital track. While nothing too standout, this track does have solid range and clarity, as well as some good ambience effects used in the surrounds. But, the track doesn’t have that great overall enveloping feel, perhaps a bit too subdued at times. Overal though, this is a pretty good mix.
Starting off the extras we have two audio commentaries; the first with the film’s director, Jay Russell along with Jonathan Jackson, Alexis Bledel and Scott Bairstow. The second track is with Jay Russell and the film’s screenwriter, James V. Hart. The better track of these two would be the latter, providing more information into the filming process rather then the story of the film itself. Worth a listen if you really enjoyed the film.
Next we have a heavy-handed educational tutor in the way of “Lessons of Tuck” which consists of watching the film, then every so often Jonathan Jackson comes on to discuss what we’ve learned since he was onscreen last. Kids might get a kick out of this, but for most this one will go unwatched.
Next we have “A Visit with Natalie Babbitt.” This provides insight into the creation of the story which is Tuck Everlasting; quite interesting. Finally, we have a typical promo section.
Tuck Everlasting is not a groundbreaking Disney film, but it does succeed on a number of levels. While the characters are a bit contrived to push the ideal of the film, Tuck Everlasting does give the viewer a nice take on life and death, a concern that probably passes through many children’s’ minds. Overall this is a solid DVD presentation with a great transfer, a fairly solid audio mix and a couple nice extras. If you’re a fan of the film be sure to pick this up and if you’re looking for a nice family film for your children, this is one to consider.
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