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Where the Red Fern Grows
Where the Red Fern Grows
Actors: Joseph Ashton, Dabney Coleman, Ned Beatty, Dave Matthews, Renee Faia
Directors: Lyman Dayton, Sam Pillsbury
Genres: Drama, Kids & Family, Music Video & Concerts
PG     2004     1hr 26min

"The Roots of a Classic" ? Explore the story?s journey from book to film through interviews with the author?s wife and filmmakers. "Lights, Camera, Animals" ? See how the film?s animal stars were "discovered" and trained f...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Joseph Ashton, Dabney Coleman, Ned Beatty, Dave Matthews, Renee Faia
Directors: Lyman Dayton, Sam Pillsbury
Creators: Lyman Dayton, Sam Pillsbury, Bob Yari, Douglas C. Stewart, Eleanor Lamb, Wilson Rawls
Genres: Drama, Kids & Family, Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Religion, Family Films, Music Artists, Classic Rock
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 12/21/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 26min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 3
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Disappointing remake of the original
Darren Winkley | Pasadena, CA United States | 12/23/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Where the Red Fern Grows has been my favorite book since my second grade teacher read it to us. Now I read it to my 5th grade class. The original movie was very disappointing, as it did not follow the book. I have always hoped that the movie would be remade and remain true to the book. Such was my anticipation when I bought the 2004 release. Unfortunately, this version has the same bastardizations as the original movie and other facets that make it difficult to enjoy. For example, most of the hunting is done in the daytime, even though the narration says it is night. Like the original movie, Billy does not win the coon hunt outright, but rather the real winner declares Billy the winner and gives the trophy and money to him. Many of the highlights of the book are left out, which I can understand due to time constraints, but why can't we get a movie of Where the Red Fern Grows that makes some attempt to remain true to the book?"
Where the Red Fern Grows was annoying
Sober Muchacho | 02/22/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Where the Red Fern Grows Review By Amelia Solano, period 6

Movies that are based on books usually have to leave out or change scenes or characters. For the readers of the book leaving out the smallest character, or changing the way somebody dresses could make them leave the theatre very annoyed. Where the Red fern Grows, being a novel based movie, had many scenes and characters left out. The movie itself was good, but it was not true to the book.

Where the Red Fern Grows did have take out and change many characters for the movie to be a reasonable length. Sammy the cat was not included but that is understandable, for he did not have a very important role in the book. The one thing that annoyed me and many other readers most was the change in the dogs. Old Dan and Little Ann, Billy's dogs, were to have shared a special bond with Billy and have distinctive personalities. Old Dan being aggressive and Little Ann being clever were some traits that I did not see in his movie. The two dogs wouldn't hunt with any other person but Billy, and there was a very strong connection between him and his dogs. I do not feel that the dogs in this movie really cared for Billy and they were just ordinary dogs that knew how to kill raccoons.

In every book there are a few scenes that are added to give a certain effect, or exaggerate a characters feeling. Naturally, directors leave these scenes out to make that movie enjoyable rather that boring. Directors might change scenes too to help with the story line. But the change in his movie did not really help the story line at all. At the end of the big coon-hunting tournament Billy is supposed to win first prize. In this movie somebody else wins, but gives Billy the trophy and the prize money. Billy was supposed to have won but the directors probably left it out because it would be too obvious. To me that is not a strong enough reason.

I know that movies have to change the story a little but this movie changed it a little too much for my liking. If you are considering watching this movie please rent it, for you shouldn't waste your money on a movie you will see once and then forget about."
The book deserves better than this...
Sober Muchacho | Atlanta, GA United States | 01/23/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)

"This wonderful book deserves much more than this movie. I was hoping for so much more, especially from Disney. It seemd to me that it was made hastily and on a tight budget...Coleman and Ned Beatty (sp?) did their part, but Dave Matthews? This story did not deserve to have an actor if his inability playing the role of the young man's father. As a young man who read this book over and over, and for a Father who was excited about having his 6 year old son watch this movie with him, I am very, very dissapointed."
Fair Remake
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 11/11/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I liked this movie for several reasons, though I am unable to tell you that this movie is even above average. This movie contains a solid flavor of the Midwest and the settings look very real and appropriate. The dogs were appropriately charming and the scenes with the cougar were excellent. I thought Joseph Ashton, Dabney Coleman and Ned Beatty all did a nice job in their roles. Unfortunately, the script had weak moments and the movie was filled with singers pretending to be actors.

We open this movie with a significantly older Billy Coleman (Kris Kristofferson) telling us about dogs and leading us into the depression in the Ozark region of Oklahoma. Young Billy Coleman (Ashton) has a powerful desire to own coon dogs, and he works and saves until he has the money to buy a pair of coon dog pups.

Brief aside: Dave Matthews plays Will Coleman, Billy's dad, and Renee Faia plays Jenny Coleman, Billy's mom. Unfortunately, several other actors in this movie, particularly the raccoons, the dogs and probably the cougar exceed the acting abilities of both singers. Every time Jenny Coleman came on the screen I cringed (though she is quite pretty). Dave Matthews should stick with singing rock music and avoid roles like this.

Ignoring the fill-in parents, Billy has a lot of fun training his pups to be champion coon dogs, aided by Grandpa (Dabney Coleman) and tolerated by just about everyone else. The next thing you know we have bets and competitions and run-ins with mysterious raccoons and the local neighborhood no-goods. The heart of this movie will always be the dogs and the boy who loves them. I am unable to say much more without giving away the ending, but I have to tell you that I was on the verge of tears at the end.

This movie has lots of stuff going for it. The animals are great, Joseph Ashton is a natural as Billy, Dabney Coleman and Ned Beatty know their stuff, and even Kris Kristofferson, who usually has the acting range of a fern, did a fine job. The scene where a young boy dies is excellent, even if it was a bit shocking and disturbing. The animal trainers really knew what they were doing and the scenes involving the animals were either charming or poignant. The scenery in Oklahoma was excellent and reminded me again of how beautiful the Ozarks are.

Unfortunately, many of the supporting actors did a lot of standing or had vague expressions on their face and made me wonder why they were even required in the movie at all. Alternating between the more powerful performances in the film and the weaker performances was disconcerting at best, and disappointing at most.

I still give this film a positive recommendation because the film captures the essence of Wilson Rawls's book. I loved Joseph Ashton and his dogs. I also enjoyed the extras, which included a making of feature showing Joseph Ashton talking with three of the animal trainers and hearing explanations of how some of the scenes were filmed. Another feature featured an interview with Wilson Rawls's widow Sophie along with local residents in Oklahoma and cast members.