‘Robbers’ reimagines Twain tales

Tom Huck Joe Field

Matthew Gray Gubler (from left), Kyle Gallner and Adam Nee star in “Band of Robbers,” which screens at the Gene Siskel Film Center today through Thursday.

Students shouldn’t view “Band of Robbers,” the reimagined tale of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn novels, in place of school readings, but it’s worth watching when class is done.

The film premiered at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival to a sold-out theater. Screenings run today through Thursday at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.

Written and directed by the brother filmmaking duo Adam and Aaron Nee, known for their acclaimed 2006 feature film “The Last Romantic,” “Band of Robbers” is the story of Tom and Huck as grown men, still childish and searching for treasure.

Tom (Adam Nee) and Huck (Kyle Gallner), best friends since childhood, are now a corrupt police officer and ex-convict. With their group of robbers, they pursue a legendary town treasure that has sparked their interest since boyhood, planning to steal from the rich and give to the poor. With a few twists and turns along the way, Tom and Huck learn about themselves, what makes a family and how they want to go down in history.

The narrative is entertaining and comedic, enveloped with awkward humor and well-developed characters that perform on point and bring out some laugh-out-loud moments. Themes of family and legacy are strong throughout, just as they are in Twain’s works. But there’s an echo of a controversial Twain theme: racism. However, unlike the writer’s original plot, racism is geared toward illegal immigrants and Native American culture, shedding light on the issues rather than diving in.

What’s more impressive is the cinematography. It’s rich and dense with saturated colors, offering a mood that appears light-hearted but at times serious with neo-noir sparks. This combination of a comedic plot with grownup colors and not-so-grownup characters is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson project — beautiful and respectively childish.

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