It's possible to modernize Mark Twain--AN AMERICAN SUMMER (1991) successfully transplanted the Tom Sawyer tales to Los Angeles of the 1970s--but HUCK AND THE KING OF HEARTS, the work of far less proficient filmmakers, arrives lifeless on the Mississippi.
Billy "Huckleberry" Thomas (Chauncey Leopardi), of Hannibal, Missouri, is tired of being slapped around by his mother's trailer-park boyfriend, so he slips off to search for his Grandpa Zach, a legendary adventurer. While staying with alimony-rich Aunt Darlene (Dee Wallace Stone) in LA, Huck
hitches up with Jim (Graham Greene). He's a Native American card sharp and con artist on the run from killer hoodlum Max (Joe Piscopo) after allegedly stealing $20,000 in Mafia drug money. Max, Darlene, and Huck's mom (Gretchen Becker) chase the pair all over the Southwest, until Huck predictably
discovers that Zach (John Astin) is a poor, broken-down old man in a Vegas flophouse. In a dismal conclusion filled with comical crotch kicks, Max is exposed as the real thief, while Huck reunites with his single parent and parts, pals forever, with the footloose Jim.
Any resemblance to anything written by the great Sam Clemens is either ornamental or accidental. The pic's only plus is Greene--given Hollywood's chronically stereotyped depiction of American Indians, from marauding savages to emotionless New Age mystics, the simple good humor and common humanity
that Greene brings to his role is refreshing. Chauncey Leopardi (THE SANDLOT) somehow manages to survive the script's banalities (don't even ask how his fishin'-hole skills become critical to the plot), which is more than can be said for the supporting cast of overly familiar faces. HUCK AND THE
KING OF HEARTS came to home video in 1994 to satisfy the demand for more family fare, but there's better entertainment value in virtually any past adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn--or, best of all, the novel itself. (Violence.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG
- Review: It's possible to modernize Mark Twain--AN AMERICAN SUMMER (1991) successfully transplanted the Tom Sawyer tales to Los Angeles of the 1970s--but HUCK AND THE KING OF HEARTS, the work of far less proficient filmmakers, arrives lifeless on the Mississippi.… (more)