The Apple Dumpling Gang won't be your kids' favorite, but is sweet enough for an after dinner treat.
The Apple Dumpling Gang is hardly a Disney classic, but your family may develop a mild affection for it. Everyone is so nice -- even the villains, a bumbling pair of would-be crooks played by Don Knotts and Tim Conway -- that the picture tends to put you into a pleasant lull.
Even the predicament of the orphans never feels too dire. Bixby's Donovan is amusingly ruffled at having three kids thrust into his care, while stagecoach driver Magnolia "Dusty" Clydesdale (Susan Clark) is on hand to provide motherly, if tomboyish, advice.
As for a moral, well, my 6-year-old did come away with this nugget of truth: "I think kids are more important than trading money."
Kids Will Like:
Knotts' and Conway's attempt to steal a ladder from the firehouse while the firefighters sleep. It's a silly bit of silent comedy in an otherwise noisy film.
Parents Will Like:
Harry Morgan's Sheriff Homer McCoy, who is also the town saloon keeper and judge and ... he brings a nice touch of M*A*S*H sarcasm to the picture.
Most of the violence is of a slapstick nature, though there is a scary earthquake while the kids are in a mine and an intense shootout at the bank. When Donovan and Dusty marry in order to protect the kids, he jokes about exercising "my husbandly prerogative" (later they do kiss). There is also an awkward, politically incorrect visit to Quake City's "Chinatown" that may require some explaining.
No. Despite its sequel, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, one adventure with this crew is probably enough.