Ramona and Beezus
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Teen sensation Selena Gomez (Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place) teams up with newcomer Joey King in this delightful coming-of-age comedy based on the best-selling books by Beverly Cleary. Ramona (King) is a little girl with a very big imagination and a nose for mischief. Her playful antics keep everyone in her loving family on their toes, including her older sister Beezus (Gomez), who's just trying to survive her first year of high school. Through all the ups and downs of childhood, Ramona and Beezus learn that anything’s possible when you believe in yourself and rely on each other.
Beverly Cleary fans will love Ramona and Beezus, a peppy, affectionately directed film based on the series of Cleary's children's books, starring the adorable, awkward Ramona Quimby. Ramona and Beezus manages to appeal to three distinctly different audiences--tweens, because of its heroine, played with winsome agility by the adorable Joey King; teens, because of the presence of actress-singer Selena Gomez as Beezus (short for Beatrice), the hapless Ramona's older sister; and adults, because of the great casting of the girls' parents, Bridget Moynahan and especially John Corbett. There's also a romantic sub-story involving Ramona's Aunt Bea, played by Ginnifer Goodwin, and a neighbor, Hobart (Josh Duhamel). But the star of this film, as with the Cleary books, is Ramona, the imaginative, active, creative, and sometimes lost-in-her-own-world 9-year-old, whose best intentions have a funny way of nearly always going awry. Ramona and Beezus is adapted from several of Cleary's books, and readers will recognize many of Ramona's escapades and mishaps. And perhaps surprisingly, they knit together to make a fine, cohesive family film--the cast interacts well together, especially King and Gomez, whose sisterly chemistry is adorable. There are several laugh-out-loud moments, including a really, really bad cooking incident, and the most creative accidental paint job ever perpetrated on a Jeep. But there's pathos too, and real family emotion, and there are a few teary scenes that make Ramona and Beezus that much more endearing. My 10-year-old companion pronounced it "awesome," "believable," and "really, really funny, with good music." Beverly Cleary fans of all ages will agree. --A.T. Hurley
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I love the Ramona Quimby stories, and I've read everyone. This film did not reflect my imaginings of this story, but it added dimensions I never realized. Like how young the Quimbys were - how charismatic, innocent, beautiful, and earnest. Yes, this is a completely different interpretation, as Beezus was never beautiful, but in this film, she is portrayed by the lovely Selena Gomez.
But Selena Gomez and Joey King have chemistry, and I fully believed their sisterhood. Selena Gomez was truly the older good sister, folding clothes, dependable, and reliable, while Ramona was a wild card. But you also sense that Selena Gomez is no longer Beezaus but Beatrice, and she is beautiful, strong, and independent.
I love the levity of this film. I thought it so good. It all worked perfectly.
- Ramona, hesitantly: "Jesus?"
In Portland, Oregon dwells Ramona Quimby who is nine years, three months old and, despite her older sister Beezus' assertions, isn't at all a pest or a nuisance (except that she is). Ramona's big imagination lends to plenty of daydreaming and playacting and silly shenanigans, and the rest of the kids in her class think she's daft, her teacher rendered bemused and resigned. Ramona means well, has a big heart, comes from a loving family, but she's like Pollyanna and Walter Mitty and an incoming wrecking ball all rolled into one.
The story's conflict surfaces when Ramona and Beezus' dad gets laid off and suddenly, for the Quimbys, there's penny pinching and the hovering threat of losing their house. Things like this will sometimes have a bigger impact on the children. Ramona not only becomes terrified of losing her home but, after dialogue with a snotty classmate, she also dreads the possibility of her parents divorcing and maybe having to move to Tacoma. Ramona determines to remedy all this. Everyone take cover.
Based on Beverly Cleary's beloved children's books, RAMONA AND BEEZUS and its watchability rest strictly on Joey King's shoulders (Selena Gomez only has a supporting role, really). And to lift one of Ramona's made-up words, Joey King's presence makes this movie all the "funner." It's a fine line to toe, I think. Ramona gets into so many scrapes that inconvenience so many people that it would've been disastrous if the filmmakers had tapped the wrong girl to play her. It would've been all too easy for the audience to perceive Ramona as annoying and even unsympathetic. But Joey King is awesome and so very likable, and she works the crowd with that infectious giggle and that marvelously expressive face and a certain irrepressibility. How could you not forgive her her well-intentioned screw-ups?
The rest of the cast is really good, especially John Corbett who plays Ramona's understanding, nurturing father. Ramona's interactions with her father and with her sister Beatrice (forever known as "Beezus") prove the backbone of the story. I enjoyed watching the sisters' relationship unfold. Ramona, always in trouble about something, fears that she'll never do as well as Beezus who always garners straight A's and is well liked by everyone. And so maybe the turning point for Ramona is when she gets those words of encouragement from Beezus at the end of that one sad evening.
Oh, and somehow Ramona does manage to save the day. Go figure.
Watch RAMONA AND BEEZUS and, chances are, you'll be enchanted by the wonderful Joey King. There's a comfort and a warmth in watching this movie, and you may even get caught up with the side stories, whether it's Ramona's beloved cute Aunt Bea re-sparking an old romance or Beezus kind of striking up a first one. If you want to meet an extraordinary girl bubbling over with life and imagination and who, in prepping for a princess audition, ends up in the bushes and concocts a makeshift tiara out of burrs, well, that's Ramona Quimby all over. Grown-ups will smile throughout this film. Kids will adore it. Fair warning, though, that your young 'uns may pick up Ramona's favorite curse word. Heck, I may even adopt it. There's something pretty visceral about screaming "Ah, guts!" to the heavens. I'm right, yeah?
The DVD's bonus stuff: "Show & Tell Film School" is seven minutes of director Elizabeth Allen giving tips on how to make a movie and we see how she herself applied these tips to her shooting of RAMONA & BEEZUS; 4 Deleted Scenes (totaling 00:04:11 minutes); a gag reel (00:02:50); "My Ramona" features an interview with author Beverly Cleary (00:04:14); and the theatrical trailer.
What I got was a movie that captured the spirit of the books I loved so much. It mixed some of the best parts of all the books together to make a film that made me laugh and even cry a little bit. It had some little bits in it that were just for the people who've read the books, like that part when Susan tells Ramona not to pull her hair. "You've been doing it since kindergarten". Or the bit with the drawing of Ramona and her red boots--those parts weren't in the movie, but Ramona fans know exactly what's going on there.
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I liked it a lot and I recommend it to any Ramona fans out there.