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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look: 18.18%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad54.55%
Total Crap: 18.18%

1 review, 5 user ratings

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Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The (1999)
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by Scott Weinberg

"The same old Sleepy Hollow schtick, only much blander."
2 stars

Though Washington Irving's classic tale of love, superstition and headless demons has been brought to the screen (both the silver as well as the television) several times, the folks over at Hallmark Entertainment apparently felt that nobdy had yet done the story "faithfully".

Though a great flick, Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow deviated more than a little from Irving's well-known source material, while a few of the other notable versions (Disney's short film from 1949, a well-remembered TV adaptation featuring Jeff Goldblum and Meg Foster) introudced their own variations on the original tale.

Broadcast on cable television around the same time as Burton's incarnation was released theatrically, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is precisely what one might expect from a cable-TV version of such a well-regarded tale: it's dry, it's relatively draggy and it's more than a little dull in spots...but if you're looking for a "Sleepy Hollow" adaptation that stays as close as possible to its source material...this is probably the one you want. Despite featuring costumes, production design, and acting performances that all but scream second-tier quality, it's one of the more entertaining Hallmark productions of late...not that that's saying a whole lot.

The tale is as you remember: New to the mild hamlet of Sleepy Hollow, school teacher Ichabod Crane tries to fit in to his new surroundings. Perhaps a but too starched and polished for the rustic citizens of the Hollow, Crane finds himself mocked behind his back and embraced by practically no one. Ever-blissfully-confident of his social skills, Crane begins to ingratiate himself to the various town leaders and businessmen...none of whom treat the newcomer with more than thinly-veiled derision. And when Ichabod sets his gangly sights on the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel, his presence earns the disdain of a more manly suitor by the name of Brom Bones.

You may find yourself wondering at various points throughout the movie: yeah, but what's all this got to do with that headless fella and his horse? And that would be a good question. Because (true to the original tale or not) this version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is quite simply a crashing bore throughout much of its running time. Aside from the quirky Mr. Crane, none of the Vicorian-type characters offer anything of real interest; most of the movie's first two acts is dedicated to chit-chat and old-fashioned social melodrama of the driest order.

But not all is lost: the lead performance by Brent Carver (Ararat) is so quirky, so affected and so spot-on accurate that he single-handedly carries The Legend of Sleepy Hollow through its myriad moments of well-intentioned tedium. Given a lesser performance in the film's central role, I yawn to think of what this Sleepy Hollow would feel like. Although unable to salvage the movie as a whole, Carver's tic-laden and casually twisted performance keeps the production more than watchable for 90-some minutes.

Sadly the finale is somewhat of a disappointment as well. The film's first hour-plus is not much more than a whole lotta Masterpiece Theater-style chit-chat and when the old ghost story schpiel eventually does show doesn't leave all that much of an impression.

Perhaps now we know why filmmakers have taken so many cinematic liberties with Irving's seminal tale: as it Halloween tale on the page, Sleepy Hollow is a classic. As a movie, it needs a lot of tweaks.

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originally posted: 05/02/04 14:48:37
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User Comments

7/13/05 Terry O Excellent movie, well told, and acted. Thourghly enjoyed it. Great for a cold rainy night. 5 stars
6/19/05 Tyrantis Um... guys, this isn't the Depp version. And it sucks to boot. 1 stars
5/26/05 Michelle Green I thought it was a great can you not like johnny depp in this film!!!! 4 stars
5/18/04 Jen Dreifort terribly stinky! get the disney version! 1 stars
5/05/04 Denise Duspiva Depp is good 4 stars
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  23-Oct-1999 (PG)
  DVD: 19-Aug-2003



Directed by
  Pierre Gang

Written by
  Joe Wiesenfeld

  Brent Carver
  Rachelle Lefevre
  Paul Lemelin
  Martin Kevan
  Samuel Holden

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