Friday, 11 September 2015

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)

Tia and Tony are an odd couple of kids.  Tia can speak to her brother - and to animals - using only her mind, sometimes has precognitive flashes, and can unlock doors simply by concentrating on them.  Tony meanwhile can telekinetically control objects (but apparently not locks - perhaps because he can't see inside them?).  The two have no memory of their family, and have been in the foster care system for a number of years.

One day Tia has a precognitive flash that causes her to save a man from a car accident.  No good deed goes unpunished, however: this man works for a ruthless billionaire who will stop at nothing to have the psychic children help him make more money.

The idea of a billionaire intending to base their business decisions on the instructions of magical moppets might seem far-fetched today, but this was the 70s, when "is Bigfoot real?" was a question people seriously thought worth discussing (spoiler: No, Bigfoot is not real).

That whole preamble above takes the first 30 minutes of the film.  The remaining hour is dedicated to the kids' attempt to escape from the billionaire and make their way to a mountain where they believe they might find their family.  They're aided in this by a crusty old widower and by their cat Winkie, who makes a credible bid for the title of "best thing in the film".

This is a harmless and pleasant little movie - hence the recommendation - but to be honest, I think this it probably only works all that well if you are under 10; or if you first saw it when you were under the age of 10 and are high on nostalgia.  If you don't meet either of those criteria it's merely a very "cozy" adventure story.  There's no real sense of the kids being in any danger of losing at any point, though it's all amiable enough stuff.  For modern audiences - especially those that don't meet the aforementioned criteria - I'd suggest checking out the 2009 version, Race to Witch Mountain, which packs in a lot more action and menace (and to be honest, is also funnier in its comedy spots).

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