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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Directed by Duane Clark
Warner Vision Films 04/00 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Some people are tree people. They love to gaze up at the sky through branches, or, if they are able, to climb up high and survey the world from a tree perch. They know that these old beings also make good friends and great listeners. In Family Tree, nine-year-old Mitch "Mess" Musser (Andrew Lawrence) is a lonely boy who always gets picked last when sports teams are chosen. His closest companion is "Old Oak," an ancient tree that could be close to 500 years old.
Mess's older brother Mark (Matthew Lawrence) serves as narrator for this wonderful family film. He's on the high school football team and is the pride and joy of his father Henry (Robert Forster), a developer who has just convinced a plastics company to build a new plant in their economically rundown town. It will provide much needed jobs in the community. Only trouble is, Old Oak is standing in the center of the designated spot for the factory.
Family Tree is directed by Duane Clark from a screenplay by Paul Canterna. When Mess decides to take a stand to preserve Old Oak, he finds a strong ally in Larry (Cliff Robertson), an old-timer who used to climb the tree as a boy. It turns out that he was the town football hero who went on to play in the NFL. Mess's mother (Naomi Judd) also lends encouragement to her son.
Although Family Tree might be construed as a simple tale about standing up for what you believe in, it also presents a sturdy look at family solidarity, community, and the value of tradition. Best of all, it provides good medicine for all lovers of trees.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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