Though most if not all of you have seen this one (if not, you must check it out!), I haven't been organized enough to get my reviews written up this week - yet! As a result, I decided to post this "oldie but goodie" but I will have new reviews up later this week!
One of the best, most sweetest films to come along in a l-o-n-g time, those of you who are or were fans (or who have young children in your family) of the books (books that have a reversed title) may be upset at some of the changes implemented but those who are non-readers cannot help but discover this as a wonderful alternative to today’s Hollywood.
Ramona Quimby (Joey King) is just your average grade schooler. She is cheery and tries her hardest, but because of her unusually imaginative mind, she’s often misunderstood in school. Somehow all her attempts to give a good presentation or try something a little bit daring in the playground each backfire. Ramona’s sister, Beatrice (Selena Gomez), whom she dubbed “Beezus” as a baby finds her sister a pest, while dad Robert (John Corbett) adores his “lovelies” equally – they each “color” his world uniquely. After finding herself the center of the family’s laughter again, Ramona goes off on a bit of a tantrum and feels left out of her family’s world where Beezus is always the “perfect” one. Mom (Bridget Moynahan) and Dad, are at their wit’s end: they don’t know what to do with their daughter! She is smart but can’t seem to channel that energy into constructive activities and still be able to focus on school assignments. This is how Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin) finds Ramona – feeling a little left out. Ramona opens up to her beloved Aunt, who in turn makes Ramona finally feel like she has something all her own when Bea presents her with a special locket. Trouble comes in the form of Robert losing his job, a move in the family’s future, and Ramona standing by as she watches her Aunt rekindle a romance with her high school sweetheart (Josh Duhamel).
Imagination, obviously serves up some of the most delicious aspects of this story. And I’ll confess I was mildly apprehensive about just how filmmakers were going to deal with Ramona’s over-active mind. Walden Media does nothing better than fantasy – from a fun journey to one girls island to the wonderful world of C.S. Lewis, I’ve not seen one production by them that I felt was lacking, here they continue that trend. It seems ages since there was such a cause to laugh through an hour-and-a-half or the laughs were so genuine. Although it wasn’t through first-hand knowledge, but I’ve read that this screenplay is much altered from the books. Since the material in the books doesn’t affect how I see the story, I merely enjoyed being given a fluffy, happy-go-lucky movie – a rare occurrence in Hollywood indeed!
The story takes most of its cues from the economy, something parents or elder siblings may find fault with when dealing with a children’s story. On one level I can understand, but cannot sympathize with a great deal considering I grew up watching nothing that hadn’t been pre-viewed or watched as a family. If that is your policy, there shouldn’t be anything so bothersome to young girls. The characters sparkle, and I loved all their personalities. I did feel disappointed that the film didn’t build more on the sister’s as one might expect. My impressions were of a movie where the titular characters were going to be basically the only two faces filling the screen and that they’d spend all that screen time together, turns out I was very wrong. But then, on the better side of that, we get to see newcomer Joey King shine. Her Ramona is such fun. All but one or two of her antics aren’t meant in a sassy or disrespectful manner, they just come out all wrong. We’re rarely disappointed in any of the characters but do see Ramona’s defiant side appear when, during a mild temper tantrum her parents find toothpaste squeezed all over the sink (a tantrum that prompts no sympathy nor receives rebuking) or when she tries to come between her beloved aunt and her boyfriend (sometimes by accident, others on purpose), and the occasional back-talking to her parents. In their mildest forms, examples of kids making fun of Ramona are glimpsed and she often feels left out; for all of ten minutes she hides her report card but promptly shows it to her parents when asked. For a family film based off a children’s story, this cast “felt” right, and will no doubt, impress adults. Everyone did such a praiseworthy job of making a fictional family appear real I’d be hard-pressed to find flaws, even those you might not expect much from. Little details of daily rituals and traits are their crowing achievement, strengthening the cast, and making writers just as vital.
Give copies of this as gifts to any little girls you may need to do some shopping for, buy a copy for yourself (I did!), or do both! You don’t know a good film when you see it if you find fault with this charmer. It is just darling.
(What to know, PG-rated cautions: Ramona threatens to run away “forever” as her mom helps along her cause. It can be viewed as irresponsible, but we know that Mom always knows where her daughter is. The sisters do yell at each other -- mainly that yelling comes from Beezus, but when it comes right down to it, both girls would do anything for the other. A teen crush furthers with one sweet “first kiss.” The girls parents have a couple disagreements leading to Ramona questioning if they’ll divorce; a girl from school figured they would after seeing it in her home.)