Bridge to Terabithia

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Bridge to Terabithia Movie Poster Image
Beautiful lesson in friendship for young and old.
  • PG
  • 2007
  • 95 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 91 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 139 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism

Barbie dolls, Twinkies, and Oreos make brief appearances.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySheriHarris April 9, 2008

Too sad for kids

This movie is so sad my 9 year old son cried himself to sleep. The death of a main character is not appropriate in a children's movie. I found it sad and... Continue reading
Adult Written bynbcoug April 9, 2008
Teen, 15 years old Written byMiranda B. January 16, 2011

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,... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old May 25, 2013

Beautiful, ending is very sad, so you may want to preview it.

This is an amazing movie about two ten year olds united by running. One day a new girl, boldly crosses over to the boys side of the playground and outruns all o... Continue reading

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?

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. 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).

Talk to your kids 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

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