Ramona and Beezus Directed by: Elizabeth Allen Cast: Joey King, Selena Gomez, John Corbett, Bridget Moynahan Running Time: 1 hr 44 mins Rating: G Release Date: July 23, 2010
PLOT: The children's books by Beverly Cleary are brought to life with the misadventures of a grade schooler Ramona Quimby (King) and her older sister (Gomez).
WHO'S IT FOR? Ideally, young girls with an active imagination will find a kindred spirit in Ramona. What will surprise most parents is, there's plenty for them in this movie as well, including a little romance with Josh Duhamel and Ginnifer Goodwin.
EXPECTATIONS: I never read the books, though I know the name Beverly Cleary. Since moving to Portland, I realized she is one of our treasures, and the movie takes place there, though I don't think it was filmed there. Any time there is a live-action G-rated movie, I kind of scrunch my noise up and think, "really?"
Joey King as Ramona: At first, I wasn't pleased. It seems Ramona is the classic kid for the debate of "should we or should we not medicate our ADD child." Luckily, that conversation is never brought up, and Ramona will quickly grow on you as the film goes along. She's incredibly earnest. Every task is basic and we've seen it before (making lemonade, running away from home). The difference is, we haven't seen King do it before. She's really a joy to watch on screen, and I'm someone that has a hard time appreciating kid actors. Score: 8
Selena Gomez as Beezus: Beatrice was too hard for Ramona to pronounce as a kid. So Beatrice became Beezus. Even though Ramona is stuck in her head, she eventually realizes everyone feels like an odd man out. Even her perfect older sister. Plus, Beezus dishes out good advice for eating gummy bears. "Bit the head off first, it's more humane that way." She's also given a side romance where the idea of a single kiss matters. Again, it's rated G, what did you expect? Score: 6
John Corbett as Robert: Is Robert the perfect dad? I mean, he's giving piggyback rides after a hard day's work. He's constantly making his kids laugh. Even when unemployment hits, he seems to deal with it pretty well. For any kids trying to understand their parents, this movie may help. But trust me parents, you have a lot to live up to if you want to be compared to Robert. He's almost too perfect. Score: 7
Bridget Moynahan as Dorothy: Dorothy gets the shaft. She's just not present all the time. Plus, it seems the fights that she gets into with Robert are a little bit more her doing or complaining. Luckily, she's given the task of helping Ramona run away from home. This helps include her Score: 5
Josh Duhamel and Ginnifer Goodwin as Hobart and Aunt Bea: Hobart returns and an old romance is rekindled with Ramona's Aunt Bea. It's cute. It's subtle. It's the perfect side story to keep the old folks in the audience entertained by more than just misadventures. Score: 8
TALKING: Ramona makes up some words like terrifical. Her teacher, played by Sandar Oh, doesn't appreciate them, but you will. This line sums up Ramona perfectly, "Sometimes I color inside the lines, it just depends of the picture." She dances to her own drummer. Score: 6
SIGHTS: In the beginning of the film Ramona talks about how it's good to scare yourself once in a while. I wish that was carried through a little bit better. There could have been some good kid scares in this movie if carried about a little bit more. The dark rooms, the house repairs ... the set ups were there, but then they didn't give it that extra push. Four different times we enter Ramona's imagination and the settings are great. The special effects (almost like a model train world come to life) fit perfectly in this world. Score: 8
SOUNDS: A cover song of one of the best 80's songs, "Walkin' on Sunshine" shows up. "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles gets a couple of chances on the big screen. Plus, the kids are in a school band. How cute is that? Score: 6
BEST SCENE: There's something so sweet about Ramona being appreciated for the longest picture in the world.
ENDING: Wow, picture perfect. Even more then I thought possible. The entire family walks back into the house, one by one.
QUESTIONS: Why call this movie Ramona and Beezus? Shouldn't it really just be Ramona?
REWATCHABILITY: If my almost 10-year-old niece wanted to see this movie, I'd take her in a heartbeat. Otherwise, I could just wait and watch when I have kids of my own.
This is a world where two almost perfect parents live in an almost perfect house, with one perfect daughter in Beezus, and one ... Ramona. Can you stomach it? I didn't think I could at first. There's nothing really special about the first 30 minutes of this film. But then it's all there, all the good basic stuff. A horrible class picture. A ruined car. Running away from home. Schemes to save the family home. Heck, when Ramona says her dad should consider being a fireman, it actually sounds like a good idea. This movie is a totally different vibe from Where the Wild Things Are. But both of these films have the most important thing in common: they understand and get inside the head of a little kid. What more do you want from a children's film? Oh that's right, a little romance for you parents. Well, this has that too.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10