The main problem with Davy Crockett
--and there are a few--is its cringe-causing datedness. Had the makers of this 1986 show stuck to the Crockett-specific era of the late 19th to early 20th century, they would have spared modern viewers, particularly those in the 4 to 12 age group that's among this video's target audience, a bewildering, double-barreled exercise in time travel. Instead, they send audiences packing--first to a time when spiky-haired kids turned up tight-jean cuffs and starched polo collars to look cool and, pathetically, counted the one-time movie king Rambo among their heroes, and next to the famous frontiersman's early Tennessee, Indian-infested stomping grounds. It's a Back to the Future
-style concept: We tag along as 14-year-old Ben, the quintessential '80s kid, zooms back and forth between the two eras by way of a magic biography on loan from his teacher, who has assigned a report on the folk hero. During his predictably half smart-alecky, half way-impressed interludes with Crockett (whose aw-shucks-style portrayal by Mac Davis is a highlight), Ben witnesses the coonskin cap wearer legendarily grin down a bear and hurl a wayward comet by its tail back into space. He also is nearly mauled by Deathhug, the entirely unrealistic costumed creature parading through several scenes as Crockett's pet bear.
But what's most important, judging by the tone of this film, is the pat morality lesson Ben lifts from Crockett--"Make sure you're right, then go ahead." Naturally, this mantra becomes a guiding principle back in 1986, where the former goof-off straightens his act. While Davy Crockett won't win over those used to watching slicker, sophisticated productions, there are a few moments of fun--McLean Stevenson shows up briefly as a craven Andrew Jackson, and Crockett's hillbilly high jinks at a fancy Washington dinner party seem less stale than genuinely silly. --Tammy La Gorce