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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ramona and Beezus is an adaptation of Beverly Cleary's classic children's books about impulsive, imaginative Ramona Quimby and her older sister Beezus (played by tween favorite Selena Gomez). It's a sweet, age-appropriate story about family and friendship. The plot revolves around Ramona's father losing his job, which may resonate all too well for some families in today's economy, but the tone is light overall, and the ultimate message is that believing in yourself and the people you love can help overcome any obstacle. There are a few sad moments relating to a pet's death, as well as some mild flirting and kissing between both adult couples and a pair of teenagers. Ramona gets into her share of mischief, but she always intends well, and she apologizes when she makes mistakes.
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What's the story?
In RAMONA AND BEEZUS, grade-schooler Ramona Quimby (Joey King) lives with her family -- Mom (Bridget Moynahan), Dad (John Corbett), older sister Beezus (Selena Gomez), and baby sister Roberta -- on Portland's charming Klickitat Street. Everywhere she looks, Ramona sees the potential for adventure and imagination -- but even though she always means well, sometimes her enthusiasm leads to sticky situations ... and exasperated friends and family members. All of Ramona's optimism and imagination are put to the test when her dad unexpectedly loses his job; she's sure she can help save their house, whether that means selling homemade lemonade or auditioning for a TV commercial. Meanwhile, Ramona's Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin) is rekindling a romance with former high school sweetheart Hobart (Josh Duhamel), and Beezus starts looking at longtime friend Henry Huggins (Hutch Dano) in a new light.
Is it any good?
This book adaptation might not break any cinematic molds, but it's gentle, upbeat, and kid-friendly -- and that goes a long way. Fans of Beverly Cleary's beloved children's books about Ramona will quickly realize that Ramona and Beezus combines elements from more than one of them; the central job-loss storyline comes from Ramona and Her Father, while other incidents are borrowed from different books in the series. But while it may frustrate purists, the blending doesn't make the movie any less sweet or charming. Much of that is thanks to King -- she sells Ramona's particular mix of earnestness and mischievousness perfectly. You always believe her when she says she's sorry for her latest misadventure ... even though you know another one is just around the corner.
The rest of the cast is fine; Moynahan's character isn't particularly well developed, but Corbett's Mr. Quimby is warm and relatable -- his relationship with Ramona is one of the nicest things about the movie. Gomez, who's sure to be a big draw for tween fans (and also sings a song on the movie's soundtrack album), is cute as the often put-upon Beezus, and Duhamel is quite charismatic as reformed committmentphobe Hobart.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ramona's behavior in Ramona and Beezus . Does she ever mean to get in trouble/make mistakes? Why does it sometimes happen anyway?
What makes Ramona different from other kids? Kids: How are you different from your friends and classmates? Does that ever feel like a bad thing? How do you handle that?
Is Ramona and Beezus' relationship believable? How well do you get along with your sibling(s)? What are the good and bad parts about having a brother and/or sister?
Fans of the Ramona books can talk about how the movie compares to what they've read. Which do you like better? Why?
- In theaters: July 23, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: November 9, 2010
- Cast: Bridget Moynahan, Joey King, John Corbett, Selena Gomez
- Director: Elizabeth Allen
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Curiosity, Integrity
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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