The film opens with Injun Joe (Eric Schweig) accepting a job from Dr. Robinson (William Newman). Then Tom Sawyer (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is running away from home. He and his friends ride down the Mississippi River on a raft, but hit a sharp rock, which throws Tom into the water. His friends find him washed up on the shore, and Tom finds it was Huck Finn (Brad Renfro) who carried him to safety. Huck learns of an unusual way to remove warts - by taking a dead cat to the graveyard at night. There they witness Dr. Robinson being murdered by Injun Joe.
The town drunk, Muff Potter (Michael McShane) is framed for the murder; unfortunately, Tom and Huck had signed an oath saying that if either of them came forward about it, they would drop dead and rot. The duo then goes on a search for Injun Joe's treasure map (which he found in Vic Murrell's coffin), so they can declare Muff innocent and still keep their oath. The only problem is, the map is in Injun Joe's pocket. After Injun Joe finds the first treasure, he burns the map and discovers that Tom was a witness to the murder. He finds Tom and warns him that if he ever told anybody what he knew, he will kill him. However, at the time, the entire town thought he was dead, and the friendship between Tom and Huck starts to decline because of the fact that their evidence (the map) to prove Muff innocent, while preserving their oath, is destroyed.
At Muff's trial, Tom decides that his friendship with Muff is more important than his oath with Huck and tells the truth to the court, which finds Muff innocent of all charges and goes after Injun Joe. As a result, Injun Joe decides to hold up his end of the bargain by killing Tom. Huck becomes angry with Tom for breaking their oath and leaves town. During a festival the next day, a group of children, including Tom and Becky Thatcher (Rachael Leigh Cook), enter the caves where they become lost. They stumble upon Injun Joe (who was looking for Tom) in McDougal's Cave. He traps them, but they manage to escape. Then they find the treasure and Tom tells Becky to go get her father and bring him back.
Just then, Injun Joe finds Tom, and again tries to kill him. Huck returns to help save him, and battles Injun Joe, who then falls into a chasm. They reconcile, and are declared heroes by the people. Tom is praised on the front page of the newspaper, and Widow Douglas (Marian Seldes) decides to adopt Huck.
Background and production
Parts of the film were filmed in Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, Alabama and in the town of Mooresville, Alabama.
- Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Thomas "Tom" Sawyer, the protagonist.
- Brad Renfro as Huckleberry "Huck" Finn, the deuteragonist.
- Eric Schweig as Injun Joe, the main antagonist.
- Charles Rocket as Judge Thatcher
- Amy Wright as Aunt Polly
- Michael McShane as Muff Potter
- Marian Seldes as Widow Douglas
- Rachael Leigh Cook as Rebecca "Becky" Thatcher, the tritagonist.
- Courtland Mead as Cousin Sid
- Joey Stinson as Joseph "Joe" Harper
- Blake Heron as Benjamin "Ben" Rodgers
- Lanny Flaherty as Emmett: Injun Joe's accomplice and (arguably) the secondary antagonist.
- Heath Lamberts as Mr. Dobbins
- William Newman as Dr. Robinson
- Bronwen Murray as Cousin Mary
The U.S. and Canada box office for the film was $23,920,048.
Differences from the book
- The town is named St. Petersburg in the novel and named Hannibal in the movie.
- In the book, Dr. Robinson had no first name, while he was named Jonas by Stephen Sommers and David Loughery for the film.
- In the book, the boys are barefooted all of the time, but only Huck is barefoot in the movie, except for the ending.
- The circumstances around the "whitewash" scene are altered.
- In the novel, Becky has blonde hair, while in the film she is a brunette.
- In the book, Sid is Tom's half-brother, but in the film, he is his cousin.
- The schoolhouse scene where Mr. Dobbins whips Tom is left out in this adaptation.
- In the novel, Dr. Robinson is a fit young man who nearly saves himself from being murdered by Injun Joe. In the film, he is older, and his one feeble attempt to strike back at Joe actually seems to provoke Joe into taking his life.
- In the book, they rob Hoss Williams' grave and there is no treasure map, and Dr. Robinson is killed as revenge for not giving Injun Joe food and then having him arrested for being a vagrant five years prior.
- Injun Joe's accomplice did not have a given name in the novel, but was named Emmett in the film. Also, Injun Joe dies in the novel from starving to death in the cave, but in the film he dies after falling into a chasm inside McDougal's Cave.
- In the film, it is stated that Huck's father served as a highly skilled teacher in throwing a knife for both Huck and Injun Joe. When the character appeared in Mark Twain's novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he was little more than an abusive and lazy alcoholic (though capable in living off the land).
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