Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Tuck Everlasting

MPAA Rating: PG for some violence

Reviewed by: Ken James
STAFF WRITER

Good
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family
Genre:
Drama
Length:
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
2002

Starring: Alexis Bledel, Ben Kingsley, Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, Jonathan Jackson | Directed by: Jay Russell | Produced by: Jane Startz, Marc Abraham | Written by: Jeffrey Lieber, James V. Hart | Distributor: Walt Disney

Perpetual youth—it’s what our culture wants. Growing old is not an experience many look forward to. Why is that? Why do we hold youth, beauty and vitality as more important than age, experience and wisdom? If you could stay 30 forever, would you?

That’s just what the Tuck family has done, not by conscious decision though. In the early 19th century the Tucks—Angus (William Hurt, “A.I.”), Mae (Sissy Spacek, “Crimes of the Heart”), Miles (Scott Bairstow, “Lonesome Dove,” “The Postman”), and Jesse (Jonathan Jackson, “Insomnia”)—inadvertently drink from a small spring at the bottom of a tree while traveling. They realize something is strange from the first moment their lips touch the water… it’s like tasting heaven. When accidents take place (like falling from a high tree with no injuries, being bit by a rattler but showing no effects of the poison, fighting wars but being invincible), the Tucks know they have a secret that must be protected at all costs. It is their cross to bear. They’ve told no one outside their tight family in over a century, living as recluses in the woods on the edge of Treegap (filmed with sweeping cinematography in the Susquehanna State Park and Berlin, Maryland).

Alexis Bledel in “Tuck Everlasting”But one day teenaged Winnie Foster (Alexis Bledel, “Gilmore Girls”), trapped in a smothering life of sophistication and boredom, gets lost wandering in the woods her family owns and discovers young Jesse Tuck drinking from the spring. Panicked, the family doesn’t know what to do with Winnie, and Winnie herself isn’t sure what to think. Not yet knowing the secret, she is captivated by this simple family that takes her in. She is so drawn to them and the adventure that is an everyday part of life for perpetually 17 Jesse, she just stays on while her family, lead by father Robert Foster (Victor Garber, “Titanic”) desperately searches for her.

Sir Ben Kingsley in “Tuck Everlasting”The two form such a close, innocent friendship and love for one another that we can’t help but long for them to be together forever. “Yes, drink of the spring” we want to say once Winnie learns of it. Yet doomed like Romeo and Juliet, we know it can never be. And the closer a mysterious tracker, The Man in the Yellow Suit (played masterfully by Sir Ben Kingsley), gets to the Tuck’s secret, the sooner we know the world will come crashing down on the Tuck’s well guarded secret. The evil Man in the Yellow Suit will stop at nothing to get what he wants: sole ownership of the Fountain of Youth, and everlasting life himself.

Now enjoyed by two generations of readers, Tuck Everlasting first came to the scene in 1975 from the mind of author Natalie Babbitt. It has been on the American Library Association’s Notable Book list for 25 years and named one of the most important children’s books of the 20th century by School Library Journal. It translates perfectly to film due in part to the painstaking perfection of Director Jay Russell (“My Dog Skip”, 2000).

There is much to love in “Tuck Everlasting”. Christian families will be delighted to know that the romance between Winnie and Jesse is pure and innocent (though there are one or two short kissing scenes). The language is clean as well, though there is one instance of “Oh My God” uttered by Winnie’s mom (Amy Irving, “Traffic”) in a time of great distress… perhaps even a true cry unto God. There is some violence, though it is never overdone and crucial to the story. And a reverent funeral scene toward the film’s conclusion speaks of Jesus Christ as the way to heaven, though it serves more as a wrapup to show that Winnie has truly learned that death is a natural part of life then any kind of overtly Christian message.

Director Interview

Alexis Bledel and Jonathan Jackson in “Tuck Everlasting.” Click to read interview with Director Jay Russell
Jay Russell talks with Christian Spotlight about “Tuck Everlasting”
[Read It]

“Tuck Everlasting” is one to enjoy with the whole family (ages 8 to adult), crossing generations and captivating the adventurous spirit in each of us.

Themes to talk about with family and friends include: death and dying, the fear of death, the cycle of life as we know it, living forever, greed, aging, and simplicity of life (especially in a time when, like 1914 when this story takes place, our culture is pressing into new times of increased technological change). Be sure to study up on God’s original design for the world—one without death and disease, a time of perfection before sin entered the world. And as followers of Christ, we know that everlasting life is no fairy tale. And it’s not a secret to keep. Now go tell it on the mountain: from Treegap to Trinidad.

Viewer Comments
Positive—I loved this movie! No bad language, no vulgarity or crude speech or behavior. The photography and the scenes were beautiful, and the story was very touching and heartwarming. How disappointing to hear that many thought that a movie without cursing, sex, and vulgarity was boring and only suitable for children to watch. I wait years for one decent film like this one to watch that doesn’t make me go home and repent for putting garbage in my mind.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Connie, age 41
Positive—This is the cleanest movie I’ve seen so far… and there’s no profanity, no vulgar language and the story was enchanting! Though, there’s no such thing as drinking some sort of water and living forever (at least not for us Christians)…but overall, it was good for those fairytale lovers! Go catch it!
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
—Grace, age 18
Neutral—There are some things I think are worth noting. Firstly, the film is certainly written for children and the choices the adults make are no wiser than that of children and often wrong. In fact, you could almost say that the entire movie is based on continuing poor choices by adults. Children will not get an idea that adults are very wise, or that they should be listened to, by watching this movie. There are 4 religious references and they are not all flattering. One character states that “preachers were wrong about immortality.” While adults in ongoing context will gloss over this statement, children could pick it up as a negative. There is also a reference to a character being accused of witchcraft and being of the devil. This is portrayed with negative religious intolerance and may place a negative view of religion in the minds of children. One character asks a minister if he would want to be young forever and never have to worry about sickness or disease. While the minister tells him he is talking blasphemy, there is hesitation and his facial expression makes it unclear if he isn’t somewhat coveting the idea. As Christians we know that this world is short of heaven and is only a stopping place before our eternal destiny. A funeral service mentioning Jesus is the final religious depiction and is pleasant to hear, although no significance is given to it. For a movie about immortality, it does get surprisingly slow at many points. The final message, live the life you have, is uplifting and good for children. All in all there are probably better films for children, but there are certainly worse.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Bill Bagot, age 37
Positive—This is a nice movie set in a beautiful location with a positive message!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Jane Cockerill
Positive—Very interesting, provocative movie, thoughtfully executed, beautifully cast. A pure gem among the myriad of sordid movies out in theaters these days.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
Halyna Barannik
Positive—I thought that this was a very good movie for teen girls. There was nothing offensive in it, but I was disappointed by the ending. I would recommend people going to see this movie, but don’t expect to take your boyfriend to see it with you. He’d be bored:)
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Heidi, age 18
Positive—This was an enjoyable film! We took our three girls (8-12) with us. Our 10 yr old had just finished reading the book and was happy that the movie stayed fairly consistent with the book other than the brief kissing scene between Winnie and Jessie and few other details (i.e. “man in the Yellow suit”). It is movies like this that leave me hopeful in that maybe, just maybe. Disney and Hollywood are starting to get the picture! Families enjoy quality, non violent, non vulgar films!
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—A Haag, age 37
Positive—A very delightful film from Disney. Very entertaining with NO profanity and NO nudity but it does have an all-star cast and some beautiful scenery. Not for very young children but teens and parents will find it interesting. We enjoyed it even through a few areas where the movie drags slowly. Well worth the money and time to see a decent family film.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—S and B Owens, age 56
Comments from young people
Positive—I’ve read this book 11 times and drove an hour and a half away to see this movie on the day it came out! It gave the message that immortality isn’t as glamorous as it seems and how bad it would be if everyone could live forever. VERY good actors, and not many scenes that were changed from the book. I won’t share the ending since that would spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it… but those who have will know that Jessi knew what choice she would make from the beginning and that it WAS for the better. This movie portrayed the very-real feelings of humans in characters like the minister, who knew what was right but, like all of us-Christian or not, wondered what it would be like to be able to live forever. I thought the way Winnie examined the Tuck’s lifestyle and family values was respectable, she didn’t want to stay away from her family, she only tried to apply the same values to her family. I think we can all learn from this movie about how precious the life God gave us is and not to want it any different. Outstanding film and very touching, it made me cry A LOT!!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Monica, age 16
Positive—This is a great movie. It is definitely worth seeing. It has no profanity and is a very clean film. I hope more movies like this are produced. I absolutely loved it!
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—R. L. Keane, age 16
Positive—I thought this was an excellent film! I just started reading the book so I can’t really say the book was better just yet, but I suppose that’s true in most cases though. It was a very touching story, with a good message, but I won’t give it away. I give it 2 thumbs up!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Abby, age 16
Negative—Ok, this movie was GOOD for the whole thing [the scenes, storyline, etc.] they had you so going the whole time! the ONE part that made it so incredibly awful was… **SPOILER!** when Jesse goes back to be reunited with [the main char. girl] BUT instead of drinking the water and being able to live with him. she decides to just DIE [not thinking about what heartbreaking episode this will give him].
My Ratings: [Good / 1]
—Anime Guy, age 16
Positive—This movie is very clean and has no swearing and no inappropriate material. I would recommend this film to anyone. It touched my heart.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Jesse Bassett, age 15
Positive—This was a great movie with a great storyline. It had an all-star cast with all-star performances. It’s a wonderful movie that’s inspirational and fun. Although it drags a little I do recommend it for all ages.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Serena, age 14
Positive—This is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time!!! I thought it was soo good and romantic!! Little kids might be kind of bored with it, but teenage girls… GO SEE IT!! This movie rocks and has a major hottie in it also… Jonathan Jackson!! Go see this movie!! It kix!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Diane, age 14
Positive—I went to see this movie yesterday, and I just loved it! This movie really has some of everything that is good, with virtually nothing offensive. It had good acting, great music, beautiful scenery, romance, a bit of action, neat costumes, and a smattering of humour. There is not much violence, no sex (just two scenes of brief kissing, and a scene where two characters were about to kiss), and the only profanities were “oh Lord” and “oh God,” which, as the main review says, could be literal cries unto God. When I had first seen the trailers on tv, it did not look like a movie I should probably see (the trailers pretty much only showed the parts of kissing and romance, and it gave the wrong idea of the movie.) but when I read the reviews here, I could see that Hollywood had once again tried to paint a false picture to draw in worldly young people, which, on the other hand, can and should repel us christians! I think that this is a wonderful movie for teen girls and older ladies (I went with my mom) but that quite a few guys would enjoy it as well. The only bad part of it all was that is was just too short, it seemed a bit lacking, like it could have been fuller. Putting that aside, and the fantasy aspect, you should go see it, it was very refreshing!
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—K. Anne Niemiec, age 14
Positive—I am so impressed with this film! I went to see Tuck Everlasting expecting it to be good, but I never thought that any film version of the story would truly capture the essence in which the story should be told. Everyone should see it. I wanted to go back and see it again right after I walked out of the theater! For the first time in a long time, I walked out of the theatre feeling happy and at rest. Go see it!
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Danae, age 14
Positive—Tuck Everlasting, good book… and now… GREAT movie! This is a must see for people 8 and up. The story is outstanding, very cool. I read the book, and enjoyed it to last last drop. That doesn’t mean that I only enjoyed the movie, because I saw the book, the story is easy to follow. I went with some friends. Matt, age 13, Molly age 10 and Mary age 11. They all thought is was a great film. The story behind it is enchanting, and mysterious. With a twist of romantic plot, it makes this a movie anyone would enjoy. A few gunshots as for violence, but nothing anyone wouldn’t understand, or take Christian offense to. The story takes place within a bigger adventure than it might seem, a secret, haunting a family, making them desolate in a wilderness forest. Until a most unlikely person discovers the thing that makes the Tuck family so lonely. I say “WATCH THIS MOVIE!!!…”
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Sarah, age 13
Positive—Anyone will enjoy this timeless epic, young or old! Personally I’ve read the books, but even if you haven’t, the story is truly sure to amaze and surprise you. The plot is easy to follow, but mysterious and breath taking at the same time. I feel positive to see this film again, and I know it will be better the 2nd time. It’s truly brilliant how they brought this story to life, and captured the essence of the romantic twist, and brought the feeling of a buried secret breaking to get out to life. You feel pulled into the story and yet, watching this from the characters point of view. Take my advice, you will enjoy this film, and will feel like you HAVE to go back again!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Anon, age 13
Positive—Oh my goodness! I just saw this movie today and what can I say? I had first only wanted to see this movie considering the fact that I have been a big fan of Jonathan Jackson’s acting but, he is only part of the greatness of this movie! This movie made me cry numerous times and was incredibly a beautiful movie! What can I say? No sex, very little violence and no language! I loved it!!! Go see it—all ages above 7!!! WONDERFUL MOVIE!
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Anna, age 11