Bridge to Terabithia

Beautiful lesson in friendship for young and old.
  • Review Date: June 17, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Through an incredible friendship, a child learns that if you open your mind and heart, you can unlock the magic and the beauty in every person and situation. Strong messages about individuality. There are also serious themes relating to loneliness and even death, but they're treated thoughtfully.

Positive role models

Leslie is a strong, creative, independent role model for tween girls. Jess is less sure of himself but undergoes some profound changes over the course of the movie. Some pranks are played at others' expense, but the instigators either get appropriately punished or feel contrite.


A main character has a tragic accident. With cause, a boy punches another boy in the face. A teen bully pushes and menaces younger kids.


The main characters share an intense, affectionate friendship. Characters write a fake love letter to a teenage girl. A boy stares at and has an obvious crush on a teacher.


Mild insults among siblings and school-aged kids; a father makes a couple of hurtful comments. A few uses of "damn" and "hell."


Barbie dolls, Twinkies, and Oreos make brief appearances.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie based on Katherine Paterson's classic children's novel isn't a fantasy adventure as much as it is a thoughtful drama. The story includes mature themes about loneliness, platonic love, parental affection, family relationships, religious/class differences, and even death. For example, a financially troubled father is emotionally distant from his son, while the mother seems too overwhelmed with five kids to connect to any of them. At school, kids are ridiculed because of their appearance, and a bully and her associates routinely terrorize younger kids. Potential spoiler alert: Due to a central character's death, sensitive children (or those who've experienced the loss of a loved one) may need to be comforted after the film.

What's the story?

Based on Katherine Paterson's Newbery Medal-winning 1977 book, this touching adaptation is the ultimate story of boy-girl friendship. Forget the zeitgeist of iPod-carrying, text-messaging, gadget-obsessed tweens, and meet two 10-year-olds who prefer to use their imaginations. Despite their different upbringings, Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) -- a poor mechanic/small-time farmer's son -- and his neighbor Leslie Burke (a glowing AnnaSophia Robb) -- the only daughter of intellectual back-to-the-landers -- form a fast friendship. When Leslie decides that they need a special place to call their own, the two construct a magical land in the woods behind their houses, a secret kingdom dubbed "Terabithia" that's populated by wonders only they can see. And though Jess and Leslie's friendship continues to grow, as in the book, it doesn't devolve into pre-adolescent dating. It's as true a friendship as fiction offers. When tragedy strikes, quickly and unexpectedly, the fragility of Terabithia is exposed. Yet somehow, the magic continues.

Is it any good?


Like Narnia, only the initiated can see Terabithia's wonder, and the two young leads ably lead the audience into their secret kingdom, which is full of buzzing fairies and flying, rodent-like evildoers. As their imaginary world develops, each contributes their talents to the task: Leslie builds, and Jess draws.

Outside of Terabithia, the best friends share glimpses into the other's life: Leslie goes to church for the first time, and Jess hangs out with her laid-back parents. At school they delight in the weekly visit of breezy music teacher Ms. Edmonds (Zooey Deschanel, looking exactly like the beautiful teacher every student loves). BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA is not only one of the best family films of 2007, it's one of the finest film adaptations of children's literature.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what made Jess and Leslie such good friends. What did they teach each other? Were they boyfriend and girlfriend or something different? Why is that rare?

  • Why was it so important for Jess and Leslie to have a "place just for us"? Kids: Do you have your own special place, or your own Jess or Leslie?

  • If you've read the novel, how is the movie different? Parents should encourage kids who haven't read it yet to get a copy. And if you're willing, read along -- it's a wonderful book. For more ideas, see our discussion guide.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 15, 2007
DVD release date:June 19, 2007
Cast:AnnaSophia Robb, Josh Hutcherson, Zooey Deschanel
Director:Gabor Csupo
Studio:Buena Vista
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic elements including bullying, some peril and mild language

This review of Bridge to Terabithia was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous September 14, 2013
age 9+

Beautiful movie

9/10 Bridge to terabithia is an amazing movie. It is beautiful and touching. Filled up with great acting. The ending is really sad and some people will cry. That is the reason why it is for 9 and over. Watch this.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byChristian_girl March 13, 2010
age 11+

The Stupidest Movie I've Ever Seen (Besides Transformers 2)

Who in the world said this movie has good role models? Who in the world said it was good? Who in the world says it was educational? Who in the world wrote this movie? Who in the world wrote the book? I'm gonna give you the lowdown on the whole movie, beginning to end: the movie starts out when a boy, about 10, goes to a new school and makes a friend who is a girl. Not girlfriend, just girl, although the girl may have had a crush on the boy, there's nothing I remember that indicates one or the other. There are bullies at their school that the kids never (without violence) stand up to. The filmakers give false advertising to say this movie has magical creatures in it. In actuality, the creatures are just imagined by the two kids when they swing across a river on a maybe 50-year-old rope, and those sequences only last about two minutes or less. The monsters act like the school bullies, etc. That's how they deal with bullies: they run away. After class, the boy watches his teacher, maybe 25 years older than he is, walk to her car with a dumbfounded look on his face, "My, she's pretty. I want to marry her right now." The teacher returns this gesture by calling him up and asking him if he wants to visit an art gallery or something of the like. If I remember correctly, she refers to it as a kind of field trip. But she told the kid they'd be the only two on the trip. The kid runs away in the afternoon to go on a date with his favorite teacher. The teacher drives the kid home safe and sound, then his parents come running out of the house, "Where were you? We had the whole state after you. By the way, that girl you mentioned. She died today. Yep, washed down a river." The End. The morals: If a school bully messes with you, either run away or punch him in the face and be sure not to tell your parents. If you find a rickety old rope, swing across it and hope it doesn't snap. It's okay to have a crush on your teachers when you're ten years old, or anyone for that matter. (heaven help the kid when he's older.) If your teacher calls you and asks if you want to go somewhere alone, eagerly say yes and, again, make sure your parents don't know. Now, what do you think of these morals? Very good, aren't they? And you can learn a lot from this movie. But only if, before you watch it, you tell your kids, "Never do anything you see people do in this movie."
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 15 years old Written byOGORMAN January 16, 2011
age 9+

An extroardinary adaptation from Katherine Patterson's novel.

In the words of Leslie: "Close your eyes, and keep your mind wide open." These words portray a good message. Keep yourself open to all possibilities, nothing is impossible if you set all your efforts to it. This movie was a perfect adaptation of the classic book. Josh Hutcherson and Anna Sophia Robb are talented actors who played their parts extremely believably. I have no complaints about this movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bynbcoug April 9, 2008


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