Features lacking on Everlasting DVD

Since the earliest forms of folk tales and fables, through Cinderella all the way to Veggie Tales and Lilo and Stich, life lessons are an necessary part of a good story for kids. Whether it is a lesson about family values or the importance of sticking up for one’s friends, a positive message is always carried out.

Tuck Everlasting, a Disney film based on a book by Natalie Babbitt, battles the theme of immortality. Considered a chick flick by most, this children’s story surpasses the triteness of a fairy tale to cover deeper issues. It isn’t just a kids’ movie — its take on the issue of eternal life appeals to all.

Its approach to the topic of everlasting life is appreciated by adults but made specifically for children. And while the frame of the story is sometimes a bit too sappy and a little too predictable, the movie in its entirety is original and well made, and may be one of the better stories recently released that kids can learn from. It shows that living forever may not be as desirable as it is thought to be.

The story of Tuck Everlasting centers around Winnie Foster (Alexis Bledel), a young girl at the turn of the 20th century, who becomes tired of her life as a proper young lady dominated by her formality-obsessed mother. She runs off into the woods where, at a secret spring, she meets Jesse (Jonathan Jackson), a boy completely different than anyone she’s ever met. Jesse takes her back to his home, where she meets the Tucks, a compassionate family with a secret of immortality. As Winnie spends time with the family, she must decide whether she will choose to live her own life or live forever.

As effective as the film is, the DVD released Tuesday offers features that are practically not worth watching. Both commentaries with directory Jay Russell and cast members give no insight into the making of the film.

While they briefly discuss how quickly the characters were cast, the rest of the commentaries are inflated eulogies to the skill and versatility of the actors as recited by the director.

Also included are “Lessons of Tuck” — a viewing mode that helps viewers grasp the ideas presented in the movie by watching brief interludes of the film. They include interviews with cast and production members, as well as teenagers from different backgrounds. Its infantile approach ruins the hidden depth of the movie by spoon-feeding the audience with what they are to understand about the film.

The only feature worth watching is the interview with Babbitt, who briefly explains how she started writing children’s books and how she created Tuck. Her interview is both interesting and insightful, and includes a few explanations concerning the nature of the book’s characters and themes.

The DVD is also packed with Disney’s self-promotional previews and sneak peeks. It shows teasers for five upcoming movies and two TV-based features. And though each DVD produced by Disney or its division includes self-promoting bits, the lack of features on this disc makes the propaganda stand out significantly.

This DVD is for kids, and that is the bottom line. It may address important themes very well, and its message may be important to both adults and children, but it should only be included in a DVD library of the latter ones.

Contact Olga Robak at oracleolga@yahoo.com