Ramona and Beezus

I loved Beverly Cleary books growing up. And now I remember why. They are filled with heart and humor and mischief and extremely relatable characters… especially if you’re a young girl, or used to be. So it came as a relief to see the essence of the books preserved in the big-screen version of Ramona and Beezus, even if it did feel – a lot – like a Disney Channel movie.

Relative unknown Joey King (yes, Joey is a girl) plays Ramona Quimby, a spirited young girl whose boundless energy and active imagination are alternately endearing and frustrating to those around her, especially big-sister Beezus (played by Disney Channel mainstay Selena Gomez).

When Ramona’s father (John Corbett in ultra-sensitive hunky-dad mode) gets laid off, Ramona cooks up scheme after scheme to help the family out. But as her efforts routinely backfire, even Ramona begins to question her propensity for marching to the beat of her own drum.

Ramona and Beezus is a light family drama that occasionally gets a bit sad. I even shed a few tears – though I attribute those to experiential relatability more than anything else. It’s hard not to relate to, recognize, or envy the various relationships touched upon in the movie: There’s Ramona’s relationship with her sister Beezus; her relationship with her parents (Corbett and Bridget Moynahan); her parents’ relationship with each other; her relationship with her school teacher (Sandra Oh); her relationship with her Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin), and Bea’s relationship with a former high school sweetheart and neighbor, Hobart (Josh Duhamel). None cut too deep. But then again, this movie has a rather limited target demo consisting mostly of 8-12 year old girls. I took two smart and sassy 10-year-olds and they both seemed to enjoy it. Rumor has it that Miley “Hannah Montana” Cyrus was initially offered the role of big sister Beezus. All I can say is… well… thank goodness for small movie favors. I’m still processing The Last Song.

Ultimately, Ramona and Beezus is just okay as a feature film. It’s more like a good TV movie with a really good cast and a really, really good message for girls (and boys) of all ages. When Beezus admonishes Ramona for always coloring outside the lines, Ramona sets her straight, saying (paraphrasing here) “Sometimes I like to color inside the lines. It just depends on the picture.” I like that answer.

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