Review in a Hurry:Ramona and Beezusis really more about Ramona, but since starSelena Gomezplays Beezus, her marquee mention must have been a requirement from the suits in the corner office. One thing the executives didn't ruin, however, was the movie itself, which is surprisingly wise and whimsical.
The Bigger Picture:Movie marketing is a production in and of itself. The producers wanted to make the first big-screen adaptation ofBeverly Cleary's belovedRamonabooks, but they needed to sell tickets too. Thus,Ramonalikely becameRamona and Beezus, capitalizing on Gomez's tween star power. Beezus is certainly part of the story, but so is Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin), Mrs. Meacham (Sandra Oh, having prim fun) and especially Robert Quimby, Ramona's dad (John Corbett). All these characters orbit Ramona and her misfit adventures, stumbles and triumphs.
Fans of the book may thinkRamona and Beezusis based solely on the bookBeezus and Ramona, but the movie combines elements from many, if not all, of theRamonabooks (further confusing the viewer who may or may not tearfully cling to her childhood memories of those precious books...ahem). Reassuringly, the varied story lines, from Aunt Bea's run-in with an old flame to Robert's employment issues, all elegantly intertwine.
The actors gracefully settle into their roles, and they all really seem like family as they relate to each other. Relative unknownJoey King, as Ramona, is on the right side of precocious, using her adorableness in carefully measured doses. She easily carries the movie.
The marketing ofRamona and Beezusmay have the gloss of Hollywood, but the material stays true to the magic of Cleary's books—namely, their ability to expose not just the imperfect moments of middle-class family life, but the pockets of unexpected beauty as well. Whatever its name,Ramona and Beezusjust happens to be a good movie.
The 180—a Second Opinion:DirectorElizabeth Allenalmost loses us with a slow-paced, cliché-ridden beginning. The flick picks up the pace and interest as it gets going, so be patient.