Making the Grades
Ever noticed a souvenir is rarely made in the country you bought it? Alaska, a movie with obvious promotional tie-ins to the state's tourism department (the commercial after the end of the movie was the final clue) follows this tradition. Despite its name, it seems the cheap Canuck buck wooed producers out of the northerly state and into the province of British Columbia where most of the film was shot.
The story? Simple stuff. After the death of his wife, a father decides to pack up and start fresh. He quits his job flying 747's so he can run a tiny charter aircraft company that delivers groceries to remote villages. His son and daughter are going through the pains of losing mom and moving to the wilderness, but things really take a dive when his plane crashes and the kids decide to find dad themselves.
I knew this movie wouldn't be complete without a bear, and I wasn't disappointed. Mixed in with the insane idea of two kids canoeing from the ocean into the mountains (somehow they got the river to run downstream while heading inland) is an ecological angle of two poachers trying to kidnap a baby polar bear. The kids meet the bear and the bonding allows the bear to lead them to where their dad has crashed. Climbing mountains and repelling down cliffs is no problem for these former city slickers: They learned it all from watching ESPN.
Alaska's scenery will keep parents slightly interested, but children will probably love this movie. There is little violence, the worst at the beginning when a polar bear is shot. Other than some mild profanities, Alaska is clear sailing for family viewing -- just make sure your kids know not to try rock climbing because they saw it on this film. And check out none other than Charlton Heston playing one of the poachers. You credit watchers will notice his son Fraser (who played baby Moses in the Ten Commandments) is the director. Dad must have known this movie would need some experienced help.