I teach "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" to high school sophomores and have always included watching the film as well. For years I used the 1985 PBS adaptation (best known as the last film silent film star Lillian Gish appeared in). However, the PBS film ran nearly four hours and while it was fairly thorough, it simply was too plodding in its pace at times.
This 1992 Disney film solves that problem. The story moves along quickly and it certainly holds my students' attention. It is not, however, without its flaws:
X While the intent of the novel is maintained, there are a lot of scenes that have been cut. There is no mention of Tom Sawyer. And the entire "Phelps" episode is gone.
X The Colonel Sherburn/Boggs episode is missing. I understand that it was easy to eliminate because it did not directly advance the story line, but it is one of my favorite scenes of the novel.
X Two scenes that deepen Huck's relationship with Jim and help Huck see Jim as a person and not merely a slave are missing from the film. The first is where Huck fools Jim into thinking they were never separated in the fog, and the other is the heart-breaking story Jim tells of the time he slapped his daughter for not minding him only to find out later that she was deaf.
X In addition, when I first saw this film, I thought Elija Wood played Huck a bit too smart-alecky. After twenty years, I've come to appreciate his portrayal. Although I should point out that Twain's manuscript notes indicate that Huck is fourteen, and Woods was ten when this was filmed.
On the plus side, while the novel never has Jim discuss slavery, it becomes a talking point in the film.
As to the bonus material: The featurette "Huck Finn: An American Classic" is nothing special and runs less than five minutes. Likewise, the original trailer is of little interest. [Although it does include a clip of a scene that was cut from the final release.] And the audio commentary with the director and film editor is of marginal interest. Although they do mention a scene in the cave at the beginning of the film that was cut. (And the cave cost $23,000 to construct.) I would have been more interested in seeing that and any other deleted scenes.
Overall, this film has much to recommend it. And as a companion to the novel, I will continue to show it in the classroom until the definitive edition is filmed. RECOMMENDED