MGM Studios DVD presents
Escape to Grizzly Mountain (1999)
"Sometimes you have to do a little wrong to make things right."- Jimmy Dobson (Miko Hughes)
Stars: Dan Haggerty, Miko Hughes, Ellina McCormick, Cynthia Palmer
Other Stars: Charlotte Dodds, Nik Winterhawk
Director: Anthony Dalesandro
MPAA Rating: GRun Time: 01h:34m:46s
Release Date: 2002-02-19
DVD ReviewAt an imposing six foot one, the soft spoken Dan Haggerty became an icon for wildlife protection in the 1970s with his role as James Caspen Adams, better known as "Grizzly" Adams, in the true life story about a social renegade who became a mountain man and befriended a massive grizzly bear. The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams made the transition from feature film into a TV series, and spawned a pair of TV movie sequels. Playing on this indelible image, in 1997 Haggerty again took the role of a grizzly-loving mountain man in an unrelated time travel motion picture entitled Grizzly Mountain. With the resemblance to his former persona inescapable, the sequel, Escape to Grizzly Mountain, dissociates itself from the Grizzly Adams character with a disclaimer up front, but it's pretty clear that Jeremiah is all but one and the same as his predecessor, at least in spirit. The film opens in 1841, as Jeremiah comes across a young doe caught in a leghold trap. This sets up a confrontation with the trapper (Jan Michael Vincent in a cameo), which allows Jeremiah to extoll his dismay at the encroachment of civilization on the wilderness, and his hope that somehow people can learn to live together with the animals. It also introduces Jack (not playing on name recognition from Denver Pyle's character Mad Jack from the Grizzly Adams series), a lumbering grizzly bear, and Jeremiah's best friend. We next move to the present day and meet Jimmy Dobson (Miko Hughes), a young school kid who is the butt of his schoolmate's teasing. Living under his older sister's care after the death of his parents, the boy is a loner, and his always absent sister (Ellina McCormick as Linda) won't even let him get a dog. When Aunt Molly's circus comes to town, Jimmy gets rooked into sneaking onto the site by his school tormentor, and winds up discovering an orphaned bear cub who is being abused by the circus personnel. When Charlie, a Native American security guard, tells Jimmy a story from his ancestors of a secret cave hidden in the nearby mountains, which allows those "pure of heart" to travel through time, Jimmy takes it as a cue to free the bear to a time where he can live free and wild, and sets off for the cave. Unfortunately, Aunt Molly and her henchmen are hot on their trail, as are the police, called in by Linda. Jimmy activates the hidden time portal and finds himself in the mid 1800s, but the bear gets left behind. Here, he meets up with an Native scout, Tukayoo (Jay Tavare), who introduces him to Jeremiah, whose help he enlists to free the orphaned cub, but this means Jeremiah must travel into the future, and he is in for the shock of his life.With a few interesting twists, the story is fair, and I'm sure kids will get a kick out of the loveable little bear. Adults may find it a bit harder to buy into the somewhat mediocre acting, and all-too-familiar plot devices seen in numerous Disney live action films. Despite feeling more like a Saturday morning television show than a feature film, it is still enjoyable, even with the obvious public service announcements ("My parents are dead too, killed by a drunk driver."), and the blatent product placement. The film also manages to avoid the overly mushy sentimental scenes often found in animal adventures—no one gets killed, no animals get hurt, and the bad guys redeem themselves for the most part. This won't leave you crying, and the pace is upbeat and humorous—check out Jimmy trying to explain heavy metal to a nineteenth century mountain man, or the experience of one's first Big Mac. The special effects are passable, reminding me of something out of Land of the Lost, and the environmental messages are pretty clear. For family entertainment, this one is pretty good, as long as you're not expecting great performances. Oh yeah, Escape to Grizzly Mountain is approved by The Dove Foundation, so no worry of suggestive eye movements.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The full-frame image is clean with only a couple of minor imperfections. Colors are well saturated, shifting to a more yellow hue for the sequences in the past. Black levels are solid, and there is a moderate amount of visible grain in places, but this looks fairly natural, and there are no signs of edge enhancement. Overall a good presentation.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The stereo surround track is clean, with no signs of distortion or other defects. Surround activity is minimal, with a fairly center-focused frontal field. Frequency range is adequate, dialogue is easily understood, and there is no excessive sibilance. Fine all around.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Extras Review: Nothing in the way of extras. This disc is as "bear" as a baby's bottom.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsThey don't make many films like this anymore, which is too bad, even though Escape to Grizzly Mountain isn't a standout in the animal adventure genre. A quaint, familiar-feeling tale of a mountain man helping a young boy free an orphaned bear cub from the treacherous grasp of an evil circus owner. Kids should enjoy it; adults will see through the not-so-thinly veiled PSAs and product endorsements. Still, beats excessive violence, and may spark an interest in nature preservation. And of course, the bear is cute.
Jeff Ulmer 2002-02-06