Friday, April 26, 2013

Movie Review: Candleshoe

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: The three leads, a mostly fun story...
Cons: ... that kids will like more than their parents.
The Bottom Line:
A fun mystery
The kids will really love it
But it's a bit light

Welcome to Mystery at Candleshoe

Candleshoe is one of Disney's many live action films from the 1970's.  I remember seeing it as a kid, but I didn't remember that much about it until I sat down to watch it again.  It's fun, although it's not up to the level of a true Disney classic.

Street wise teen Casey (Jodie Foster) is living by her wits in America.  She's an orphan who has found a place to crash.  But that changes when con-man Bundage (Leo McKern) shows up.  He thinks that Casey is a dead ringer for an English heiress and whisks her off to England.

Of course, there's a bigger reason for Bundage's plan.  Seems there's a hidden fortune in gold in the mansion, and he wants Casey to follow the clues and find it for him.

Once Casey gets to Candleshoe, she grows to love Lady St. Edmund (Helen Hayes), her supposed grandmother.  Even butler Priory (David Niven) and the orphans who live there grow on her.  But they are having money problems of their own.  Can Casey find the gold?  What will she do with it if she can?

This is really the movie of three people, a teenaged Jodie Foster, Helen Hayes, and David Niven.  They are the ones who are universally praised.  And it is well deserved.  Jodie Foster manages to make Casey annoying at the beginning but likeable by the end.  Helen Hayes is immediately loveable as a grandmother figure.  She's the kind of grandmother we'd all love to have.  But David Niven really steals the show as Priory.  And that's all I'm going to say about that so I don't spoil anything.

One reason these three shine is because they have the most developed characters.  An actor can do a lot with a good character.  The rest of the cast is certainly capable, but their characters never get beyond one or two notes, so there isn't much they can do.

And the plot is fairly predictable.  I wanted to scream one plot point to the characters a while before they got it.  Maybe I just read too many mysteries.  Not all the clues are that obvious, fortunately.  As the story progresses and we come to care for the three leads, it's hard not to get drawn in.

And for the kids, there's the slapstick at several spots, including the climax.  I will admit I still found parts of it mildly amusing even as an adult.  But the young kids will eat it up.

I mentioned earlier that this film is set (and filmed) in the 70's.  Considering that fact, it holds up fairly well.  True, some of the fashions and hairstyles do make it rather obvious.  And there is a song at one point that really screamed it to me.  But for the most part, it wasn't that bad.

Kids will love Candleshoe.  And since that's the intended audience, that's the most important thing.  Adults might find it mildly amusing, but it won't have the same draw for them that it does for the younger set.

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