Movie: ‘Ramona and Beezus’
In Theaters: July 23, 2010
Director: Elizabeth Allen
Runtime: 104 minutes
MPAA Rating: G
G-rated movies are so few and far between these days, so I’m always thrilled when they come along, mainly because it gives younger kids a chance to see a movie without too much objectionable content.
Even better when the movie is tied to a beloved children’s book series, like the Ramona and Beezus books by Beverly Cleary. I read them all when I was a kid, and still read them even as an adult. Her “young love” series is great, too. ‘The Luckiest Girl’ is one of my all-time favorite books ever. At 94, Cleary is still writing and going strong!
‘Ramona and Beezus’ follows the adventures – or rather, MISadventures – of 9-year-old Ramona Quimby, played by adorable newcomer Joey King. She’s quite imaginative, so we get interspersed scenes from Ramona’s head, like her flying through the clouds or dangling over a perilous gorge (in reality, she’s hanging from some playground equipment).
Ramona lives on Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon (a real street not far from Cleary’s childhood home) with her 15-year-old sister Beatrice (nicknamed Beezus by Ramona), played by Disney star Selena Gomez. Also in the family portrait are their parents Robert and Dorothy (John Corbett and Bridget Moynahan) and Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin).
Things are going along well, and it appears that Ramona might even get her own room, so she doesn’t have to share with Beezus anymore. But fate interrupts their pleasant life, and Robert is laid off from his job. Not good, considering the remodelers just blasted a big hole in the wall of their house! Of course, Ramona decides to help out with the family finances however she can.
Joey King is so sweet as a tousle-headed Ramona, and even when she’s getting into trouble, you feel for her. You don’t want her to be a kid who always colors inside the lines, and grows up to be an adult who colors inside the lines. Likewise, Selena Gomez makes a great older sister, who loves to tease Ramona and sometimes gets downright agitated with her. But underneath it all, you know they really love each other. They seem like they could be sisters in real life.
That’s sort of the story of this whole movie. There’s some conflict, but you have a feeling things will turn out just fine. It’s G-rated, so you know nothing is going to be too intense — although I did manage to cry at one point, but if you’ve been reading my reviews, you know I can find something to cry about in nearly every movie. In this case, the story was handled very well.
And it’s so funny to see Josh Duhamel in a family-friendly movie, because he usually ends up in tough-guy roles like Captain Lennox in ‘Transformers.’ In this case, he’s a neighbor who used to date Aunt Bea back in high school, so there are a few comic twists involving those two and Ramona.
Sandra Oh plays Ramona’s sensible teacher (I’m reminded that she played a principal in ‘The Princess Diaries,’ though she’s by no means typecast in teacher roles). And Beezus’ childhood pal Henry Huggins even shows up, played by Hutch Dano.
In summary, ‘Ramona and Beezus’ is a great family movie for kids aged six and older. There are no car crashes, no overly goofy characters, no dumb adults, no bratty kids, and no sexually-charged scenes. My hope is that other filmmakers will make similar movies, but my fear is that this particular brand of innocence is becoming extinct. I hope they prove me wrong.
Images: 20th Century Fox Film Corp.