Where the Red Fern Grows
the Red Fern grows must be a pretty popular book in the USA, as it has
now spawned a remake of its own film adaptation. Both entries were
Disney productions and the original is a fairly well liked, if
forgettable adaptation. Why they decided to remake it is a good
question, and one that Disney didn’t seem to think about until well into
the filming process, when it was subsequently buried and released only
at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003, before crawling its way to DVD. It
is with good reason too, as this family adventure is just plain boring.
film follows the exact plot of the book which concerns young boy Billy
Coleman. All he wants is two redbone hunting dogs to hunt racoons with.
Unfortunately his family cannot afford it so he begins working himself
to earn the money. Before he knows it he is then saddled with two of the
dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann. Billy trains the dogs to hunt racoons and
of course shares a special connection with them. From there the film
concerns itself with Billy’s newfound success as a racoon hunter and his
relationship with his two dogs. Going any further would spoil the films
only emotional gut punch so I will instead complain about the film for a
starters, it looks bad. Upon first watch, I believed it was the original
version from 1974, until I saw Dave Matthews (Yes that Dave Matthews)
name in the credits. The film looks incredibly cheap like a poor made
for TV film. It also isn’t directed with much aplomb either. The big
confrontation and aforementioned emotional crux is so poorly filmed, as
to edit out any violence (spoiler?) that it is almost impossible to tell
what exactly has transpired until the last shot of the sequence. Apart
from that it just feels kind of static and lo-fi, but not in a good or
inventive way. The performances are ordinary for the most part,
conveying all the “Aw shucks” sentiment of the times adequately enough.
Watching Dave Matthews play a struggling farmer kind of feels like
taking a sledgehammer to the fourth wall, but he tries earnestly.
really isn’t much else to say, the disc contains no special features,
and is only home to a film that is boring, poorly shot, and not even fun
for the children that it is undoubtedly aimed at. If anyone at all is
interested in it, perhaps try the book first, or the original film, as
this film will disintegrate that interest very fast.