“You don’t want to grow up ignorant, do you?”
No that’s not Joey Lawrence on the cover, but the classic family adventure hit returns to DVD. It may not be the most realistic depiction of a family going back to nature but it does have folksy charm.Skip (Robert Logan) and Pat Robinson (Susan Damante-Shaw) are sick of the rat race and congestion of city life. There’s also another type of congestion as their daughter Jenny (Hollye Holmes) is suffering from allergies and exhaustion. So they do the logical thing, they pack up the family dog and son Toby (Ham Larsen) and buy some land in the mountains and live off the land.
Their neighbors are now 45 miles away but they’re welcoming committee are raccoons, deer, wolves, a huge black bear that eats their supplies, and a villainous grizzly. Before you can say “photo montage with folksy theme song” the family is building a log cabin, hastily adjusted to the simpler life, adopted two orphan bear cubs, and met crusty mountain man Boomer (George “Buck” Flower).
Where’s Bear Grylls when you need him? Maybe this 1970s family film inspired him to live off the land though. I’d imagine that Bear’s television reality show is certainly closer to reality as this gentle fantasy. The Robinson’s response to their daughter’s sickness, caused by city pollution and congestion, is to take her to the wilderness, where she’s apt to encounter other allergens that her city life hasn’t exposed her to?? Well, keep repeating that it’s only a movie but it is a green panacea isn’t it?
The family faces a multitude of dangers but they always look healthy, brightly lit, and well clothed. Mom even wears some fashion at the dinner table that seems a bit much for the woods. I guess you can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl. Nature is treated as both idyllic and dangerous, but I can’t help but think that the family’s adjustment to moving to the middle of nowhere will strike most as ludicrous.
I guess I’m must being a cynical old coot though as this is family entertainment at its finest (those other cynics might want to keep this type of commentary to themselves as the kids are rapt with making friends with the wildlife). It must’ve struck some cords as it made 31 million worldwide and produced two sequels. There’s still some charm left in the old family yet.
The Adventures of the Wilderness Family is presented in widescreen (1.78:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include 3 minutes of commercials and the 2 minute theatrical trailer. There are also trailers for the other two films so maybe Lionsgate will put them out too.
The Wilderness Family still is good, clean family fun. It may be lost on our cynical, reality-show-crap times but the film looks great in this release. It’s still nice to watch… providing your hilltop cabin has electricity, a TV, and DVD player. It still didn’t make me want to leave civilization and head to the hills.
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