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The Legend of Johnny Lingo

58 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(May 11, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on the beloved story, this wholesome coming-of-age tale is "a wonderful family film full of tender moments, exciting adventure and good, old-fashioned values" ("The 700 Club")! Far away on a tropical island, an orphan boy named Tama is "cursed" by his tribe and finds comfort in a fellow outcast: Mahana, a feisty girl shunned for herragged appearance. When Tama sails off in search of a new life, he promises a tearful Mahana to return for her someday. But Tama's journey leads him to Johnny Lingo, a wealthy trader who makes Tama his apprentice and heir. Now, as Tama embraces his new life, he must learn that the measure of a man is not in his possessions but in love, friendship and in Tama's case honoring a promise from the past.

The 1969 short movie of the beloved Johnny Lingo receives feature-length treatment in this heartwarming family film by veteran producers John Garbett and Jerry Molen. Filmed in New Zealand, this seafaring adventure expands the legend of the wealthy island trader by tracing back to childhood the boy, Tama, who eventually becomes Johnny Lingo's namesake. When a storm casts ashore a tiny canoe carrying the infant boy, Tama's tribe receives him as a gift from the gods. But when misfortune strikes, Tama is cursed and cast out to live with a feisty girl, Mahana, and her drunken father. Mahana and Tama forge a friendship and when Tama is old enough to sail away from the island, he vows one day to return for her. Good fortune takes Tama to the isle of Johnny Lingo, who teaches him life lessons of fair trade, hard work, and honor. Tama eventually returns to bestow dignity on Mahana in an ashes-to-beauty love story. Steven Ramirez, in his directorial debut, retains the spirit of Patricia McGerr's original story, "Johnny Lingo's Eight Cow Wife," underscoring the power of second chances. (Ages 6 and older) --Lynn Gibson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: George Henare, Rawiri Paratene, Joe Folau, Alvin Fitisemanu, Kayte Ferguson
  • Directors: Steven Ramirez
  • Writers: John Garbett, Riwia Brown
  • Producers: Brad Pelo, Gerald R. Molen, John Garbett, Tim Coddington
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1 EX)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: May 11, 2004
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001LQJM6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,563 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Paul Campbell on May 19, 2004
Format: DVD
Brought to the screen by some of the people who gave us Schindler's List, Hook, Jurassic Park, and Rain Man, this moral fable is a well executed film that teaches without preaching.
The Legend of Johnny Lingo moves at a leisurely place as an outcast boy finds his place in the world with a little help from some new friends. It starts out somewhat predictable (but what Disney movie isn't?), then we learn what the Legend actually is in a surprise half-way through. And the boy-goes-back-for-the-girl ending is very well done with a little twist of its own to keep it interesting.
Not enough movement to keep smaller kids interested and probably too uncool for older kids, it is a perfect fit for families with children in the 6-14 age group.
The scenery is breathtaking. And the soundtrack, which consists of traditional and contemporary Polynesian themes, is fabulous; the music is well selected.
Family movies run the risk of being pretty low quality knowing that there are so few movies out they'll have some minimum audience no matter what. This is not one of those movies. While shot on an indy budget (I would guess), the production values and editing really bring out the story in an entertaining way. It is charming little movie.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By R. Winget on June 14, 2004
Format: DVD
I was raised on the 1969 short film "Johnny Lingo" produced at BYU.
I enjoyed this retelling with one exception. The Tahitian Noni company (one of the sponsors) shamelessly plugged the noni fruit and its juice. I admit that noni, despite their taste, have wonderful healing powers, but this propoganda belongs in a commercial, not a movie.
The most shameless example of self-promotion was when Tama was threatened with death because spilling noni juice displeased the gods. None of the gold or silver with Johnny would appease the gods' anger over the spilt nectar.
I recognized a lot of the cast from "The Other Side of Heaven", and their acting did not disappoint. The lush valleys of New Zealand were also impressive.
If you are a "Utah Mormon" you may want to buy the LdS Collection 2-disc edition from Deseret Book. This edition includes the BYU classic, the feature film, and some bonus material. Again, the LdS edition is labeled "NOT FOR SALE OVER THE INTERNET", so you have to go to Deseret Book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jochen Klaschka on May 21, 2008
Format: DVD
The "Legend of Johnny Lingo" is actually based on a real south seas legend and was already the topic for another film about this legend some years ago.

This is a more modern interpretation of the legend, and it boasts with a number of famous Pacific Islands & New Zealand Maori actors like Rawiri Paratene (Whale Rider), which are of course mostly unknown to the US and European audience. The film was shot at various locations, mainly in NZ and Rarotonga and Aitutaki (the two latter both belong to the Cook Islands) and the beauty of the locations is breathtaking.

The story is quite simple: orphant boy leaves his home island but vows to return one day to marry the daughter of his foster father, boy meets the famous and benevolent trader Johnny Lingo who later makes the boy to take his name, and finally returns as the (new) Johnny Lingo to get his bride who has been patiently waiting for him all these years. However, this seemingly plain story is witty with some very nice twists and contains lots of humour. The film music is by the famous group "Te Vaka" from Tuvalu and supports and enhances the story, adding to the typical South Seas touch.

As I have lived in the Cooks Islands for some years I have particularly enjoyed recognizing some of the places I know. But even without this personal interest of mine this film is great family entertainment and will be enjoyed both by young and old (5+ years).

The film was sponsored by the Mormons (Latter Day Saints) and a Tahitian company that exports Noni juice. Whilst I could not detect any mormon-specific preaching or message in the film (in fact, there are no biblical or church themes in the film at all), the Noni juice is quite prominently mentioned throughout the film, probably due to this sponsorship.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Niki M. on August 4, 2009
Format: DVD
Film critic, Pete Croatto, wrote: "There's no adventure or fun anywhere in Johnny Lingo, which is odd because this is kid friendly fare...There are no truly funny, scary, or heroic characters and no memorable visuals." No heroic characters?!! Crazy talk. Young boy made a promise and kept it years later. Sounds pretty heroic to me. (This is a fine example of why I do not trust film critics. Nothing more than one person's opinion rendered through a narrow scope of one's own personal taste. Better to have a composite view from many different opinions to weed out the foolishness.)

Not every movie (even "kid-friendly") needs CGI gimmicks, sexed up women, idiotic quips, or bogeymen jumping out of bushes to capture interest and hold attention. With reviewer opinions like Croatto's, it's no wonder studios now make movies devoid of emotional inspiration, have flat characters, and droll storylines. Movies today are made for drooling buffoons with short attention spans. If a car doesn't go boom or someone doesn't get shot within the first 15 seconds, the movie is a failure. So when faced with a movie like Johnny Lingo--one that is based around characters and real emotions not booming parlor tricks--like a monkey with a computer, most don't know what to make of it. They shake it. When it doesn't make noise, they lose interest and throw it against the wall then lumber off.

The cover shot and title are misleading in marketing the movie. The crux of Johnny Lingo is about love and commitment, which may be beyond the depth of most youngster these days. There's no real "legend" to speak of; that is a misnomer. No swashbuckling journey or legendary adventure. The legend angle was nonexistent and had no meaningful part in story.
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