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Bridge to Terabithia(2007)

Relative to Kid's Movies
With all the trash that's out there today, it is refreshing to see a kid's movie that tries

My Personal Review
It's a kids movie

A pretty standard kids movie in which two friends meet and embark on their own fantasy to escape the hardships of reality. Though the film is not overly imaginative, it is refreshing in that it bases its story in reality. However, much of the story is told poorly and the coming of age aspect is never completely realized. Though the film is no “The Neverending Story”, it is a much wanted alternative to the recent nonsense that has sufficed as "kid's movies" recently. To collect my thoughts, the movie isn’t stellar, but it is one of the better children’s movies out there.


Ah, I don’t really have much to say. It is a kid's movie and as such it has all the faults of a kid's movie, but it does enough things right that it is a stand out from the rest of the films in this league. My only problem with decent children's movies is that they are often bitter sweet. Children's movies that are just fun, are usually just stupid. The ones that hold value often have at least one traumatizing moment. So parents, you might want to have some tissues on hand (a warning for those who didn’t read the book).

The plot
The story is essentially a coming of age (1 year of age) for Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) who is pretty much the stereotypical elementary school loser. He draws cute pictures in his notebook and gets picked on by both male and female bullies. He soon finds a valuable friendship in a new student, Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb), who is also stereotypically picked on for being new. But unlike our protagonist, she is self-confident and rolls with the punches. Jess and Leslie form a friendship that leads to the creation of a fantasy world in which they embark on many adventures to escape the woes of reality. It’s a story of true friendship and the power of imagination.

Reasons to see it
If you’re a kid or the parent of a kid, the reason to see the movie is this: it’s a kids movie that doesn’t suck. But even if you are just the regular movie goer, there are still a few reasons to see it.

Zooey Deschanel (from "Elf" and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"). I never tire of seeing her in movies. I think she is a fun actress that always brings charm to the roles she plays. Her role as Miss Edmunds is no different. She adds a charm to the film that is lacking when AnnaSophia isn’t onscreen. She also fuels the classic young male coming of age scenario 'boy has crush on teacher'.

From what I understand, this movie is one of the best adaptations of the book to date. So if you were a fan of the book, seeing an onscreen redention that doesn’t completely fail may be pleasing. (I personally have not read the book, so this is hearsay).

The Negatives
This film has several subplots that are not entirely fleshed out by the end of the flim. Though I didn’t have any particular desire to see the subplots finished, it is still a valid criticism for any movie. Don’t add in plots that you don’t have time for. Most of these had to do with the relationship of our protagonist with his family.

Which brings me to my next gripe. The film fails to portray a true 'the grass is greener' scenario. This goes back to the overall complaint that the film tells a few aspect of ther story poorly. One such aspect is the scenario in which Jess meets the family of Leslie and instantly falls in love with them. It's meant to be a situation in which Jess has it bad at home and we sympasize that Leslie's home is better. But what we are presented with is parents who do real parenting and parents that are free spirited artists. Instead of feeling bad for Jess, the audience ends up relating to his parents and thinking that Jess is ungrateful for what he has. Perhaps this was the intention and the book conveys it better, but the film does not do a good job of guiding the audience to whose side they want us to be on. Not that this is a major detriment to the film, but it does give you ambiguous feelings about the protagonist, and movies that fail to illicit fondness of the main character often do poorly (seen a Rob Schneider movie recently?).

The film is largly unimaginative despite having a premise that implies otherwise. Though I would argue that I enjoyed the fact that the film was based in reality, I have to make note that the film made little attempt to embellish on the fantasy aspect of the plot. With the story being based around the imagination of two children, you’d expect more than 15 minutes of combined screen time for visual effects. There is minimal amounts of the fantatsy world portrayed on screen and what is portrayed on screen isn’t much of the world as it is quick encounters with…squirrels.

In summary…

The film is a pretty good children’s flick, but unless you enjoy these types of films, there isn’t much else here for you. The fantasy is kept minimal and the story plot is too simple to be truly engaging for those who enjoy mature coming of age films. Thus, parents take your kids, but not your expectations.

Spoiler Grumbles
WARNING: Please do not continue reading unless you have either seen the movie or do not mind having it spoiled.

Bullies. Why do films feel that it is necessary to make bullies not only mean, but ugly. Yes, I’m saying it, the bullies in "The Bridge to Terabithia were ugly kids. Why is this necessary? And it isn’t only kids. In many movies the villains, or ex-husbands or bad parents or any character that the audience isn’t supposed to like, is ugly. I obviously understand the concept behind it, since aesthetics are a big part of visual entertainment, making the villian ugly is a way to maximize effect; but I feel that it is a bad message to convey to the world. It may even subconsciously condition children (or even adults) that ugly people are always bad. In the case of kid's films, it’s like teaching our children at a young age to have a prejudice for people that they find unsightly. Sure kids have the natural tendency to dislike such things, but cinema doesn’t need to reinforce it.

But then again, I’m just a dude, what do I know.
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