Steve Simels
March 25, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Tom Sawyer

Current Status
In Season
Jodie Foster, Johnny Whitaker, Celeste Holm, Warren Oates
Don Taylor

We gave it a B-

As Disney-style family fare goes, this musical adaptation of the Mark Twain classic Tom Sawyer is not exactly thrilling. Yes, the Mississippi River locations (well served by this laserdisc’s new wide-screen transfer) look nice, and it’s fun to see a prepubescent Foster — three years away from her teen-hooker turn in Taxi Driver in such a determinedly wholesome context. But Don Taylor’s direction has the visual flair of an average Little House on the Prairie, and the songs by Richard and Robert Sherman (Mary Poppins) begin icky, then overstay their welcome. There is, however, a secondary audio track that almost redeems the film. On it, Taylor and the Shermans (reunited after 20 years) reminisce at length about the production, and their conversation is by turns charming, funny, and informative. Maybe these guys aren’t great artists, but they make fabulous video houseguests. B-

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