THE ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN is a delightful though sanitized rendering of Mark Twain’s classic. On the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Petersburg, Missouri, twelve-year old Huckleberry Finn (Elijah Wood) makes his home with the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. Since Huck’s mother died when he was young and his father, Pap, is a no-good bum who’s out to kill him for the $600 left by his mother, Huck puts up with the “civilizing” at the Widow Douglas’s house. After Pap abducts Huck to kill him, Huck has no choice but to get away. This scene is difficult to watch, and children would be very upset to see Huck’s father trying to kill him. Huck takes off on a small raft. Soon, Huck discovers Jim, one of Widow Douglas’s slaves, who wants to escape to freedom so he can buy his wife and children. Huck tries to protect Jim since there is a bounty on his head, and Jim watches lovingly over Huck.
Several hilarious episodes occur, and Twain’s themes shine through the dialogue, including death and rebirth, freedom and bondage, the search for a father, and the theme of brotherhood. Slavery is a metaphor for social bondage and institutionalized injustice. Twain also gives religion a black eye in the satiric HUCKLEBERRY FINN. The acting, cinematography, costumes, and staging of life in 19th Century America are superb. Despite the detracting elements which derive from the novel, most viewers will delight in Huck’s witticisms.
(Ab, H, A/D, LL, O, VV) Twain's anti-Christian humanism pervades the story as well as: roughly 19 obscenities ("hells, damns, hells bells," etc.) & 4 non-exclamatory profanities; several violent episodes, such as Pap's abduction of Huck, hitting him & trying to kill him, Pap knocks woman down, slaves being beaten, including Jim, fighting, shooting & killing in feud battle between the Shepherdsons & Grangerfords; alcohol drinking & drunkenness by Pap (Huck's father) & Huck's smoking pipe; and, satanic-appearing ritual by Jim when Huck seeks advice.