His name is rapidly fading into anonymity today and is virtually unknown to your average thirteen year old. But in 1995, he was not just Jonathan Taylor Thomas, but J.T.T. The J.T.T. that graced every cover of Big Bopper magazine.
His breakout role as Randy Taylor on Home Improvement won him the opportunity to star in such fine films as Wild America (1997) and Man of the House (1995). (I don’t need to fact check the release dates because I have them memorized…). Might I also mention that he is the voice of young Simba in The Lion King (1994).
The above screen capture shows the diminutive J.T.T. as Tom Sawyer behind a surprisingly well-kept, pretty-boy Huck Finn. Jonathan Taylor Thomas’ angelic choir-boy vocals made him sound like a kid at least; I don’t know how old this Brad Renfro was when they casted him as Huck Finn, but he was deep-voiced enough to make me wonder why a little boy like Tom Sawyer was doing hanging out with this strange man.
In the center, J.T.T. performs the famous white-washing-the-fence scene with gusto. Why his performance didn’t win an Academy Award is beyond me…
I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve never liked Tom Sawyer. I’m more inclined toward The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, not just because it was Mark Twain’s masterpiece, but because I liked Huck better than Tom. Huck had inner struggles to attend to whereas Tom, well… Tom was sort of a punk in the same sense that Macaulay Culkin was a punk in all his movies.
I’m sad to report that twelve years later, my VHS copy of Tom and Huck is collecting dust in a box somewhere. Unlike Twain’s novels, this movie proved not so everlasting.
As for J.T.T., he’s like the VHS which bears his movies… done.