» » The Tillamook Treasure (2006)

Short summary

Julie, a lonely fourteen year old girl, moves to Manzanita, an Oregon seaside town, from Los Angeles after her writer father, Robert, loses his job. Her family, including mother Kathryn and older sister Susan, has trouble adjusting to life in a small town. Julie's parents struggle with her father's unemployment and her sister, Susan, finds solace in a summer fling with Tom, a not-to-bright local logger. The story opens with 16th century Spanish sailors landing their launch on the beach of Manzanita. They carry a treasure chest up Neahkahnie Mountain, leading a manacled black slave. The treasure is buried and the slave is killed and laid on top of the ground to "guard" the treasure and frighten the Indians away. Back in present day, Julie has a dramatic encounter with a large Roosevelt Elk on the beach. It's hooves uncover an old Spanish gold coin in the sand. The Elk becomes Julie's silent, watchful guide and protector as she becomes fascinated by the legend of the Tillamook Treasure ...

The story begins with a mystical elk on the beach running at Julie and jumping over her. The scene's genesis was in a real event. One summer, when Suzanne Marie and Janine Doyon were just toddlers, they were on the Manzanita beach with their mother, director Jane Beaumont Hall. The children were a hundred feet away playing in the sand. Suddenly, from out of nowhere a huge Roosevelt Elk came running down the beach straight for the girls. "There was nothing I could do," says Hall. "Time stood still as I saw the Elk run towards the girls and then suddenly swerve around them. The elk ran into the ocean and swam out past the breakers. It was an amazing experience. I don't think I had time to be scared for the girls and the elk was such a magnificent creature." Hall remembered that scene when she and Richard Doyon wrote the screenplay. Both the elk on the beach and the elk swimming in the ocean were written into the script.

The treasure legend is a real Oregon Coast legend. There are various versions of the legend. Only a few versions talk about the black slave. Spielberg's film, The Goonies, is based on the same legend but tells a whole different story.

The films star, Suzanne Marie Doyon, plays Julie in the film. Julie's sister, Susan, is played by Suzanne's real life sister, Janine Doyon. When the film was shot, Suzanne was 14 the age of her character. Janine was 16 but played an 18 year old.

Grandpa Jack (played by Max Gail, TV's Wojo from Barney Miller) and Standing Elk (Floyd Red Crow Westerman) play close friends in the film. In real life, Floyd and Max have been friends for several decades. Max introduced Floyd to the producers for the role of Standing Elk.

The two bad guys are digging under a hump of sand. The floor of the tunnel has dry sand that they are scooping out. If the tunnel were made of dry sand, the roof would have collapsed before they got six inches in.

Indian flute music is performed by Jan Michael Looking Wolf Reibach, a Kalapuya Native from the Grand Ronde Tribe of central Oregon. Jan also appears with his flute in a scene with Suzanne Marie Doyon and Floyd Red Crow Westerman. When producer Richard Doyon first heard Jan's music he was moved and was overjoyed when Jan offered his music for the movie. Hearing that Jan's uncle had recently passed on and that Jan had been very close to his uncle, Richard asked if Floyd Red Crow Westerman's character, originally called Great Elk, could be renamed in honor of Jan's uncle. Jan said he was honored, as was the tribe, and so the character's name was changed to Standing Elk.

When writers Jane Beaumont Hall and Richard Doyon added the scene about a backhoe getting stuck in the beach after digging itself into a whole (and then the tide comes in), they wondered if it was too silly to be realistic. They later found out that the same thing actually happened in real life when treasure hunters had to have their backhoe towed out of the wet sand after digging itself into a hole. And it happened not just once, but twice.

Julie asks her grandfather if she is right that she is 1/16th or 1/32nd Native American. The actors, Suzanne Marie Doyon (Julie) and her sister Janine Doyon (Susan) are actually about 1/16th (or more, the lineage is not 100% clear) Penobscott and Miq'Maq Indian (tribes from the Northeast US and Southeast Canada).

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Whitebinder
    I'll give this movie one star for having moderately competent performances by some of the veteran supporting actors, and one star for having no glaring technical errors. Otherwise I cannot recommend any aspect of it. I watched it on cable because I grew up in Oregon and have fond memories of visiting Tillamook. What I got was a poorly written and edited clinker that resembles the unholy love child of Nancy Drew and Carlos Castaneda.

    The first problem is that the producer cast his own daughter in the lead role, and while not particularly unpleasant on screen, she cannot act a lick. She is certainly not alone among the cast in this regard, but it's a huge liability in the main character.

    Her line delivery is wooden and her emotional range is flat, but she does doggedly carry out her assignment with a modicum of dignity and consistency. The script and editing are another matter. This is one of those movies where you find yourself telling the story in your head because the movie apparently can't be bothered with fulfilling that chore. Each scene appears content to sketch out the bare outlines of its main idea without actually building a narrative. Then it ends abruptly and the movie wanders on to the next loosely connected event. Scenes often feel like they end a few actions or lines of dialog before they are finished, and the movie as a whole ends up playing like a Cliff's Notes version of itself.

    Told in this manner, the story would probably only occupy about 30 minutes, but the movie falls into the amateur trap of trying to make up for a lack of substance with sheer quantity. The scenes may be short and light on dramatic content, but there are a lot of them. Some needlessly rehash previously covered material, some fulfill stock checklist purposes like Comic Relief Scene or Local Scenery Chewing Scene, but most of them do little to advance the story.

    Many of the other reviews posted here praise the film for being family-friendly. If you are seeking wholesome, uplifting stories with a minimum of offensive content, there are many excellent choices that have strong narratives and talented performances. This is not one of them. Watch a Pixar film or the growing Narnia series instead. For those who claim that the girl in the leading role has great prospects ahead of her, I doubt she'll ever land a role in another project unless her father has a hand in making it. I wonder how many of these glowing reviews were written by people who were involved in making the film, or who come from the Tillamook area and are blinded by their enthusiasm for a homegrown product.

    The people who made this movie meant well and tried hard. They did not succeed. Avoid it unless you can see it for free, and even then only watch it if you are looking for an instructive example of how not to make a movie, or if you enjoy giving bad movies the MST3K treatment I alluded to in my Summary line.
  • comment
    • Author: Doomblade
    Flicks like this are what give the term "family feature" a bad name, and I find all the positive reviews to be HIGHLY suspect. This film was aimed at tweens who cannot discern a quality story or cinematic production. That, or the bar is just too low for shows targeting families. It's just sad. Many of the actors in this movie seem to have experience limited to high school drama; the plot had potential as family fare, but the execution is difficult to watch. I gave it more than one star because kids up to about age 13 would probably watch this and enjoy it without laughing at it. However, for me, this was painful to watch: I was embarrassed for the actors in a lot of the scenes. Go ahead and see it if you want something to ridicule mercilessly, as it provides ample opportunity to do just that.
  • comment
    • Author: Vizuru
    Having lived in Oregon, I am familiar with the legend of the Tillamook gold. I also trekked over, up, down and around Neahkahnie Mountain several times. But I wasn't looking for treasure. It is part of the Oregon Coast Range and has some wonderful hiking trails. They wind through rain forest, along deep woods ridges, and along paths that lead to outstanding views of the Oregon Coast from up high. The coast highway, U.S. 101 runs through Oswald West State Park that encompasses the mountain. The town of Manzanita is below the most spectacular view that includes Nehalem Bay and Tillamook Bay in the distance.

    The premise for this story could lead to the making of a good film. But, unfortunately, this one falls far short. The script jumps all over the place, and there's little coherence in the plot. The acting is fair by some of the cast, but Suzanne Doyon in the lead role as Julie is flat. Too many diversions and subplots are in this. The attempted humor with Richard Doyon and Mary Stein, playing Clyde and Billie Stahl, misfires throughout. The family problems and subplots only add to the incoherence of the plot and distractions from the story.

    My four stars are for the scenery, the location shots, and the exploration of the legend that dates to the early 17th century. Unlike the implication of this movie, the treasure has never been found. That is, to anyone's knowledge. But some people believe it may have been found in the early 1800s by Thomas McKay. If he found it, he never let on that he did; but this outcome has considerable credence because McKay disappeared for a time after looking for the treasure, and then appeared years later in Oregon, independently wealthy.

    At best, this is a fair movie about a search for treasure. But it gets sidetracked so often that it's hard to sit through. It seemed much longer than its 107 minutes. Only the most avid treasure enthusiasts may find this film of enough interest to sit through the whole thing.
  • comment
    • Author: Celak
    I saw this at the film festival in Toronto and just recently bought the DVD. I loved it on the big screen and love it just as much on the small screen. The lead actress was enchanting. Loved Floyd Red Crow Westerman. Saw a tribute to him recently at the Native American Music Awards where the flute player in this movie, Jan Michael Looking Wolf won best artist of the year. Very cool. The puppets added another layer to the film They were done by Philip Huber who I think did the puppets in Being John Malkovich. Some great talent for a small indie film.

    Mostly the film touched me because of the respectful way it treated native American myth and also because it had a young girl lead who was strong and a good role model for my 3 young daughters. I watched it with my parents, daughters, nieces and nephews and it played well to all age groups.

    Well done and beautifully told story.
  • comment
    • Author: Vudogal
    The story overall is of interest. The execution of production is a lesson on how things can be done better. A previous review gave it high praise. I must not have watched the same movie. Anti-climatic, poor dialogue, ... I will stop there and not discourage someone to watch it. The writer/director expects the audience to read the mind of the protagonist, because the actions and words either did not match up or came out of the blue. Not to mention, the narrator speaks of things that technically should be shown. After all, it is a movie, not an audio-book.
  • comment
    • Author: Yllk
    "Tillamook Treasure" is a pleasure to view. The story is imaginative, well told and suspenseful, building as the plot unfolds. The characters are well thought out and the tension and eventual resolution of conflict within the subject family is satisfying and upbeat. The location is a sight to behold, the photography stunning at times. This particular section of the Oregon coast is particularly well-suited for a treasure hunt! The acting is well done. The direction is to the point, without a lot of diversions and side plots emphasized. The comic relief provided by Richard Doyon, one of the producers and writers of the film, is unexpected and funny! This is a terrific family film! It's presentation in high definition added to my enjoyment as well.
  • comment
    • Author: Gorisar
    My wife and I have a couple of children in grade school and middle school. We have difficulty finding movies that we can go to as a family which we would all enjoy. We heard about this film at the Newport Beach Festival of Films and thought we'd give it a shot. We were so pleased. It appealed to our whole family and on the way home was the catalyst for a discussion about what it means to find inner strength.

    The production was great. I know it was a low budget so I didn't expect the production values of a big studio movie but I was pleasantly surprised. It was exceptionally well done and you would never know it was a low budget independent. The acting was great. We loved the young girl (Suzanne Marie Doyon). She's going places. And the native American influence brought real depth to the film.

    Kudos to the filmmakers.


    (oh, yeah, the puppets were beautifully done. My youngest really got into them and even my near-high schooler thought they were great. They went far beyond a kids puppet show.
  • comment
    • Author: Fesho
    I had the great pleasure of watching the adventure film, The Tillamock Treasure, with my 12 year old daughter. I didn't cringe at the dialog or worry that the behavior was far advanced of a young teenage girl. We both thoroughly enjoyed the story. The lead character, Julie, is refreshing and talented in her portrayal of a young girl who comes of age in the small Oregan coastal town that she moves to with her fractured family. Her natural beauty and the beautiful scenery is true eye candy. This film's action kept both of us on the edge of our seat. How exciting to sit and watch a performance where the dialog was engaging and the behavior appropriate. I don't think I could sit and watch another Hillary Duff or Brittany Spears wannabe on the screen. And I know my daughter loved the film. She still talks about some of the very funny scenes.
  • comment
    • Author: komandante
    What a treat to go to a movie and enjoy every minute of it. The girl who plays Julie, the lead character, Suzanne Marie Doyon, was charming and such a wonderful actor. I am looking forward to more from this young lady. There is a scene with her older sister (Janine Doyon -- they must be sisters in real life as well as the movie - very cool) where they were sitting on the beach talking about the family's problems, was beautiful in all ways, very touching. It was among my favorites in the movie.

    I like it that the movie shows a girl growing up and maturing without having to resort to the old story line of sex and drugs. Growing up certainly involves those things for many but this film touches on what is really important -- learning who you are in the world and discovering that you have the power to do important things. This is a real good moral for young girls everywhere.

    I also loved the old Indian man, Standing Elk. He was so wonderful, funny and so respectful of Julie that he teaches her things by guiding her to the answers instead of preaching at her. He is so cute, too.

    I would have voted 10 but I never have seem the perfect movie.
  • comment
    • Author: Siatanni
    Suzanne Doyon makes an auspicious debut as the star of this PG movie set in Manzanita and Tillamook, Oregon. She shows an ethereal energy and power with nary a false note. It doesn't hurt that she is drop dead gorgeous - all this at 14! Most all of the actors do a lively job and story moves along swiftly thanks to direction by newcomer, Jane Beaumont Hall. Producer, Richard Doyon has an extended cameo as a dufus treasure hunter - de rigueur role for this genre - but well played. Music by Peter Buffett is very engaging, and amazing marionette puppets make a convincing tie-in. Heartily recommended - especially if you are tired of family fare riddled with violence and explosions.
  • comment
    • Author: Tygolar
    We, that is my wife Bridget and twins Sheldon and Brandy (12) enjoyed seeing 'Tillamook Treasure' at the Newport Festival and have recommended it to our neighbors in Temecula. Its a family film of moral value, pleasing to the eye and gentle on your mind. The cinematography is excellent and the actors compliment a dramatic and worthwhile movie event. My kids want me to get the DVD and can't wait to see 'the making of' the film. The producers have filled a void in American movies today by providing entertainment that upholds traditional family values. There's drama, action, comedy and a message which uplifts ones spirit. We wish to thank the writer/producers Jane Beaumont Hall and Richard Doyon. Susan Doyon is a delight to see and Sheldon wants a poster. MR
  • comment
    • Author: Vispel
    The first thing that struck me was the cozy glow of the Pacific Northwest. You can almost smell the fresh air! The movie was cute and engaging and a refreshing change with just enough suspense. What a great escape. I especially enjoyed Suzanne's performance however all the actors did a great job. Dealing with common family issues such as family arguments, talk of divorce, finding your first love, going to college and wanting to be famous, this movie is perfect for the family. The children and young teens that went to see it at the screening that I went to were enthralled with it and all ran very fast up to the front to get autographs.
  • comment
    • Author: Jaberini
    A beautiful mystical story about a young girl following her own path as her family is going through some rough times. I was hooked immediately when the elk came out of the mist and leaped over Julie"s head and she found her first piece of gold. The story is heartwarming and real. The parents aren't perfect and the tension is palpable. The sisters are true to life and are at times angry, protective, and supportive of each other. Susan's boyfriend was endearingly dumb. The idiot treasure hunters were hilarious. I jumped in my seat at the scary parts just like the 12 year old sitting next to me. I think this is a great family movie with the story about the legend of the treasure enhanced by the beautiful puppets.
  • comment
    • Author: Dream
    Once again it is a pleasure to hear of Brian Thompson's success in film. My husband and I went to college with Brian. We have watched him in numerous films finding joy in the fact that he is actively living his dream. Tres Amigos is a favorite. Although, we have not had the opportunity to see this film it sounds wonderful! It will be great to see it. Especially as it is filmed in an area that is beautiful and dear to our hearts. We have lived in Arizona for the past 20 years but often remember our roots in Washington State and fun times at Tillamook and the ocean beaches within Oregon. Thanks Brian for years of entertainment and the fun you gave us in college at Stephens Whitney!

    (Brian)Andy and Becky Richey
  • comment
    • Author: Molace
    Taking place in Tillamook, Oregon, its the story of a troubled family and the distraction a young girl finds in the local legend of Spanish treasure. With a bunch of actors I recognize from other projects (ie the mother also has a significant role in Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion with Lisa Kudrow), it had pretty impressive star power for a low-budget indie. I had the pleasure of meeting the cast and makers of this film at a family film festival I went to with my parents and little brother. I was able to get a copy of their film after and watched it with my little brother-- it was actually really excellent! Not too many "family" movies interest him as he's 11 and thinks he's too mature for kid stuff, but we had a really nice time together. I would highly recommend this for anyone to watch.
  • comment
    • Author: EXIBUZYW
    This was a fun film for us to see, as summer residents on the northern Oregon Coast. I had never heard that a movie had been filmed in the Manzanita area until the ad for its opening popped up in the local newspaper. At this time, it is showing at only one theater here in the Phoenix area, but I hope it will get broader distribution in the ensuing weeks. Well plotted, well filmed, and well acted. Scenery shots of the coast were excellent. Lousy title (something like "The Treasure of Tillamook" would have been better, in my opinion). The theater where it is being shown was well outside of metro Phoenix, but worth the trip for my wife and me. Will probably buy the DVD when it comes out.
  • Credited cast:
    Brian McNamara Brian McNamara - Robert Kimbell
    Julia Campbell Julia Campbell - Kathryn Kimbell
    Brian Thompson Brian Thompson - Jimmy Kimbell
    Suzanne Marie Doyon Suzanne Marie Doyon - Julie Kimbell
    Max Gail Max Gail - Grandpa Kimbell
    Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman - Standing Elk
    Bradley Stryker Bradley Stryker - Tom
    Janine Doyon Janine Doyon - Susan Kimbell
    Richard A. Doyon Richard A. Doyon - Clyde (as Richard Doyon)
    Mary Stein Mary Stein - Billie Stahl
    Escher Holloway Escher Holloway - Eddy
    Phillip Huber Phillip Huber - Puppeteer
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Leah Brisbois Leah Brisbois - Indian Girl
    Elizabeth Caldart Elizabeth Caldart - Susan's friend
    Kelly Dennis Kelly Dennis - Logging show judge
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