Just like many other little girls, much of my elementary existence was dominated by Ramona Quimby. The spunky troublemaker is brought to the big screen along with her family and neighbors in Ramona and Beezus. Fox’s new family flick features quirky characters, quick one-liners, and situations that are definitely laughable. However, the real charm of the movie comes from the fact that the story is just normal.
Ramona and Beezus is based of the beloved 1955 novel by Beverly Cleary. The success of the series (that spanned over four decades) rests on the tiny shoulders of Ramona Quimby. In this adaptation, the audience is introduced to Ramona. Although she always begins with the best of intentions, Ramona seems to end up ruining things- whether it’s accidentally painting the neighbor’s car or taking a horrible school photo. Her charm comes from her undying spirit and perseverance. She the kid that will argue with the teacher about whether “terrifical” and “funner” are proper words. When proven wrong, Ramona will still use those words…because she’s Ramona Quimby.The iconic role is played by Joey King, who captures Ramona’s vivacious spirit in an earnest way.
The majority of the movie follows Ramona’s relationship with her family. Although irritated at times, both of Ramona’s parents recognize her creativity and are patient with her. Ramona has a special bond with her Aunt Bea, the one person who seems to really understand her.
And then there is Beezus.
Played by Selena Gomez (a.k.a. the classy Disney star), Beezus is convinced that her little sister is simply a pest. She resents Ramona for many things…even for the fact that Ramona is responsible for giving her the nickname that stuck – “Beezus”.
Although the movie centers around these relationships, the plot is intertwined with other elements. Mr. Quimby loses his job, which causes some money and marriage problems. Aunt Bea may have to move away, which means Ramona would lose her only ally. Things become worse when it looks like the Quimby’s have to sell their house. Moving from Klickitat street would mean leaving the neighborhood that contributes immensly to the family’s life and to Ramona’s shenanigans.
It’s a family movie. It wraps up nicely with a pretty bow on top. It’s simple. It’s happy. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The pace is quick and the dialogue sharp. Ramona and Beezus isn’t trying to do anything but tell a charming story…and it is charming.
As I said before, the best part about the movie was the simple fact that it is a normal story. With a normal family. With normal siblings. With normal problems. No one was a secret pop-star. No one had supernatural powers. No one is really gifted in any spectacular way.
Back before every child character created had to sing, dance, read minds, do magic, and/or come from the future, there was Ramona. Her hair may never be quite right, and she doesn’t wear pretty sequined outfits, but she is still really cool…because she isn’t concerned with any one’s opinion. She’s just Ramona.
Ramona and Beezus is normal in the sense of family life as well. For me, watching it was a throwback to the days where getting your report card was a BIG deal. Getting to go out dinner? EVEN BIGGER. Getting to be the one who decides where the family gets to go for dinner? THE BIGGEST. As far as I can see, the small pleasures of family life are often missed because everyone is so busy nowadays. Ramona and Beezus doesn’t miss them. It celebrates them…and that’s good.
In the end, audiences will really only see this movie for two reasons. First, you grew up with the books. Go see it. I think you’ll enjoy it. If you related to the books, you’ll relate to the movie…and you’ll have a few laughs on the way.
Second, you are a parent and you couldn’t convince your 8-year-old daughter to go see Inception. Well…if you like to walk on the cynical side of life, you will probably be rolling your eyes a few times. My advice to you is as follows: Relax. It’s two hours. Remember that your kid is seeing a movie that doesn’t encourage them to become a singing, dancing, fame-grabbing machine. There may not be any jokes aimed at you, but I still think you will leave the theatre thinking that it was “funner” than expected.
3 out of 4 satisfied adolescent girls.