July 23, 2010 > Movie Review: Ramona and Beezus
Movie Review: Ramona and Beezus
By Mary Dixon
Families of all ages will love watching Beverly Cleary's beloved characters come to life in this screen adaptation of "Ramona and Beezus." Elizabeth Allen, director of "Aquamarine" (2006), has assembled a talented cast, including Disney Channel star and singer Selena Gomez and actor Josh Duhamel, known for his roles in such films as "Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!" (2004) and "When In Rome" (2010).
Viewers are immediately introduced to Ramona Quimby and her unique view of the world. A simple set of swinging rings on the school playground stretches for miles with a vast canyon yawning below her feet! Then the school bell chimes and Ramona finds herself stuck, upside-down on the schoolyard equipment. The teacher, Mrs. Meacham (Sandra Oh, best known for her role as TV's Dr. Cristina Yang in "Grey's Anatomy") has to help rescue Ramona. Once again, Ramona's imagination gets her into trouble.
Ramona's family is typical, with a mother, father and two siblings, including baby Roberta and Ramona's older sister, Beezus, whose real name is Beatrice. At first, all seems well, but one day Robert Quimby (John Corbett, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" 2002) comes home with bad news: he lost his job. Beezus immediately assumes they will lose the house, and tells Ramona, who then tries to earn money to save it.
Allen is extremely lucky to have found such a talented young actor to play Ramona Quimby. New to the big screen this year, Joey King makes it easy to believe she actually is Ramona, an imaginative and mischievous 9-year-old girl. King is sincere and loveable in her role, and viewers should expect to see her on the silver screen again, very soon.
The film begins with cheery, upbeat music, a version of "Walking on Sunshine" and includes recent music, such as "Say Hey (I Love You)" by Michael Franti & Spearhead. This up-to-date music helps moviegoers feel the film is relevant despite the fact that the book was written in the 1950s.
Scenes reveal how Ramona sees the world as bright and fun, a wonderful interpretation of a child's imagination. It is, primarily, a reality-based film however and these fantastic scenes are only sprinkled in for flavor. Again, even though the book was written over 50 years ago, Cleary's characters are timeless. Almost everyone has had to deal with an annoying sister or brother, and everyone has had to learn hard lessons in life.
One criticism of this film is that it doesn't just focus on the relationship between Ramona and Beezus which is what viewers would expect from advertisements. The film is more about Ramona and her father. A relationship does develop between the sisters, just not as much as anticipated.
Another issue is that some young viewers might find conversations between adult characters somewhat boring such as those between Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin, "He's Just Not That Into You" 2009) and her former high school sweetheart Hobart (Josh Duhamel). However, the writers did a good job breaking up those essential character-developing conversations between fun scenes of car washes and water fights.
Overall, "Ramona and Beezus" is a perfect summer family-film. Joey King makes it fun, Selena Gomez makes it relevant, and John Corbett makes it real. Don't miss this soon-to-be family classic.
Run Time: 104 minutes