Welcome to the highly imaginitive world of Beverly Cleary’s beloved character, Ramona! In case you didn’t already know, Ramona and Beezus are two characters from author Beverly Cleary’s series of children’s books. This movie brings them to life on the big screen….and in many ways it is a lot like watching the books.
Ramona, the highly adventurous, imaginitive, self-confident, and mishap prone 9 yr old girl, takes one back to their childhood and the adventures/challenges that seemed bigger than life at that time. This film follows Ramona in her quiet neighborhood in Portland on Klickitat St. (quiet only when she’s not home 🙂 !) The director does a fantastic job in letting you be a part of her imagination in every scenario.
If you’ve ever read any of Beverly Cleary’s work (for me as a little boy I read more of The Mouse and The Motorcycle series instead of Ramona), then you will be glad to see how the film brings the style of Cleary’s writing to life! I laughed at all of Ramona’s antics and the young actress Joey King really embodies the character of Ramona very well. What an excellent choice.
It was fun for me watching Ramona and her interactions with all of the supporting characters. It’s pretty much what I would have expected had I read all the books as a child. Watching her work so hard to not be in the shadows of her older and “more popular” sister Beatrice (nicknamed Beezus) and their relationship back and forth made it real. Ramona’s constant struggles at school with grades, paying attention, and mean classmates let you catch a glimpse into the life of a third grader. I loved her emphasis on the importance of the little things. This self-determined little girl reminded me so much of watching my own sisters grow up! It is the character devolopment that the entire cast have together that makes this movie great. The message of family togetherness in this movie flows throughout the entire film!
Cleary clearly shows us the fun and innocent mind of a child, who, while intending good, constantly ends up making situations worse. All of the little mishaps in the film make it even more believable and relatable for children of all ages, from 0-94 (which is the distinguished author’s age, and she hasn’t put down her pen yet!). This movie really is enjoyable for the family! It made me think of other classic adventure movies and books from my childhood like the aforementioned Mouse and the Motorcycle, along with The Little Rascals, Alexander and the Terrible-Horrible-No Good-Very Bad Day, The Sideways Stories From Wayside School. Tons of nostalgia!
I only have two gripes about this movie.
1. Casting usage: Selena Gomez did a good job, but not as good as all the pre-release hype set her up to be. Joey King stole the movie (and rightfully so as Ramona!). But I expected a lot more from her I suppose. And Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) did great as the “mean” third grade teacher. I just wish there had been more of her performance.
2. Sidestory plots: it follows too many other side stories. It brings them together pretty well, but the movie would have survived just as well without certain elements that were put in. The title, and what the movie actually is about, are two related, but separate things. There should have been less focus on some of the side stories (i.e. Ramona’s Aunt’s old beau returning and trying to win her back) and more on the two girls and their adventures.
Granted, as I said, they brought everything together very well, but the books would not have spent so much time focusing on anything short of what was happening in the world of Ramona and Beezus. Difference between the books and the movies: Books, written for children and from their perspective. Movie, written to appeal to audiences of all kinds and deals with issues of family, children, teens, singles, and more. There will always be the differences between books and the films they inspire!
Go see Ramona and Beezus! I did enjoy it very much. The movie is cute…not all-star-ish, but it brings many smiles and laughs! If a single male superhero such as myself can enjoy this film (I am definitely not the ideal target audience for this type of movie) then anyone can! I know that my younger sisters already can’t wait to see this fun family film!
Thanks for reading!
Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy watching!
–The Spider’s Score: 7 out of 10 stars “Ramona and Beezus”
up next: “Dinner for Schmucks” will post around 9pm EST