In Case You Missed It

I know, I know.  I’m supposed to be reviewing obscure movies.  But, in this case, I just couldn’t resist.  Yesterday, I read something about a planned remake of the Walt Disney classic, The Swiss Family Robinson.

Let me first say, when will this end? Would Hollywood please stop raping my childhood? First it was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then Transformers, GI Joe, and now this?

Am I old enough to have seen The Swiss Family Robinson in theaters? Certainly not.  That would have been a good 17 years before I arrived on the planet.  No, the childhood memory I’m referring to is watching this movie on the Disney Sunday Night movie, or perhaps a rented VHS copy.

So, after reading this news, I couldn’t resist the temptation of watching the original.  To add to the experience, I turned on the Director’s commentary as well—more on that in a moment.

First, the movie itself.  It is, of course, a classic.  Made in 1960, it tells the story of a family, the Robinsons, sailing from Switzerland.  Somewhere during their voyage, they become shipwrecked on a tropical island.   Through the course of the film, they face the elements, wild animals and pirates as they try to develop a life for themselves in their new environment.

There seems to be an element that appeals to everyone in this movie.  There must be something universal about the idea of living on a tropical island—fending for yourself, surviving in the wilderness and exploring on your own.

Of course, the real star of this movie is the tree-house.  I think that’s what I was always fascinated by when I was a kid.  Just the idea that someone could build something so spectacular, it captures the imagination.

I feel I don’t need to say much about the movie, assuming most of you have seen it at some point in your life—although, this assumption is probably incorrect.

I enjoyed listening to the DVD commentary, which featured the director Ken Annakin, and actors James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran, who portrayed the three brothers in the film.

It was interesting hearing about their experiences filming on location on the island of Tobago.  The stories they tell are definitely from a film-making era long gone, when sets were actually built, and special effects had to be created with imagination and ingenuity.  They had to use live tigers and film scenes on the real ocean.  A far stretch from the computer-generated world we live in now.

Mr. Annakin also had some interesting comments about Walt Disney, the man.  He tells us that Walt Disney truly cared about telling stories and making films that the entire family would be able to enjoy together.

Again, it was a very different image than what most of us think of, when we hear the word “Disney” today—a mega-corporation more concerned with making a buck than anything else (seriously, their movies are basically 90 minute long toy commercials).

But, all of that aside, the movie itself is great.  It might not be a movie that critics rave over.  And yeah, at times it’s probably a little hokey.  But, it’s just fun.  If you’ve never seen it, check it out.  If you’re kids have never seen it, let them give it a try.  I mean, come on, it’s got animals, pirates, and a great big freaking tree-house.  What kid wouldn’t love that?

Title: The Swiss Family Robinson
Year: 1960
Rating: G (you should see the “Unrated Director’s Cut”, you’ll never believe who gets naked… just kidding)
Advisories: very mild violence
Running Time: 126 minutes