Tom Sawyer Movie Poster Image

Tom Sawyer



A song-filled family adventure.
  • Review Date: October 18, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence & scariness

Joe kills a deputy and chases Tom and Huck down the river, trying to do them in as well. Joe is attacked by hundreds of bats and is killed by an avalanche in the cave finale.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Joe kills a deputy and chases Tom and Huck down the river, trying to do them in as well. Joe is attacked by hundreds of bats and is killed by an avalanche in the cave finale.

Kids say

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What's the story?

In this animated musical version of Mark Twain's tale, Tom Sawyer is a mischievous cat who loves fishing, daydreaming about pirates, and thinking about Becky Thatcher -- the pretty new girl at school. But when he goes to the boneyard with his best buddy Huck Finn to search for buried treasure, he comes face to face with the town's mean old grizzly bear, Injurin' Joe, who's also digging for gold. Tom and Huck witness Joe kill a deputy and pin the blame on an old hound dog named Mutt Potter. Fearing for their lives, the boys flee on a raft down the Mississippi River, but return to save Mutt from being wrongly hanged. In Dead Man's Cave, Tom and Huck stumble upon the treasure and defeat Joe once and for all.

Is it any good?


This innovative adaptation of Twain's classic features country songs and the voices of Don Knotts, Betty White, and a few country-music stars. It's a pretty faithful adaptation, but will appeal primarily to younger viewers. Some of the scarier scenes have been toned down here, and there are plenty of songs, which, while lively, bring the movie to a grinding halt every 10 minutes. The animation is simple, but colorful.

Although The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was written more than a hundred years ago, Mark Twain's storytelling mastery still shines and will captivate most kids. Even today's savvy kids can relate to the universality of having problems in school, getting into trouble, falling in love for the first time, and yearning for adventure and intrigue.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the book of the same title. How does the book differ from the cartoon? If you saw the cartoon first, how did it influence how you imagined the book? If you read the book first, did the cartoon live up how you imagined the characters, the settings, and the action of the book?

Movie details

DVD release date:July 30, 2002
Cast:Betty White, Don Knotts, Rhett Akins
Director:Phil Mendez
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Friendship, Music and sing-along
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Tom Sawyer was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byk8nadamsmommy June 9, 2012

Read the story first... 10 yr. and up.

Ok... this is a pretty faithful retelling of the story, which means: kids witness a murder, see the bloody knife as it's place in the hands of an unsuspecting drunk who is ultimately charged, many references to dying from drinking too much, the murderer breaking in the home of the boy, the boys hiding from the murderer, a couple of "damns"... sigh... an unacceptable movie in today's politically correct world. We see Tom get 10 lashes for taking the blame for his girlfriend... in school right in front of everyone as they cried... flashes of the boys' bare buttocks as they swim while they hide out on the island from the murderer. I was going to show my 2rd graders, but I can only imagine the complaints and letters of apology I'd have to write. It might be appropriate for 10 year olds after they've read the book, but I sat and pre-watched it with y 6 year old after reading the review here at this site, and had to gloss over things like the murder, and the murderer skulking around... sigh.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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