Movie Review: Ramona and Beezus
Release Date: July 23rd
Running time: 104 minutes
Elizabeth Allen (dir.)
Laurie Craig (screenplay)
Nick Pustay (screenplay)
Based on the books by Beverly Cleary
Mark Mothersbaugh (music)
Joey King as Ramona Quimby
Selena Gomez as Beezus Quimby
John Corbett as Robert Quimby
Bridget Moynahan as Dorothy Quimby
Ginnifer Goodwin as Aunt Bea
Josh Duhamel as Hobart
Joey King (right) and Selena Gomez are, respectively, Ramona and Beezus, a new film based on the beloved books by Beverly Cleary.
Our reviews below:
Ramona and Beezus Review By John C.
**1/2 (out of 4)
The Ramona books by Beverley Clearly have been around since the 1950’s. This is a fact that I admit I didn’t know as the book series, beloved by many, is not one that was a big part of my own childhood. This big screen version is corny and predictable, but it’s aided by good performances and is charming and sweet enough to work for what it is.
The movie follows the story of imaginative 9-year-old Ramona (bright new talent Joey King), and her older sister Beezus (teen-star Selena Gomez), as they deal with problems at both elementary and high school. Beezus is how Ramona mispronounced big-sister Beatrice’s name when she was a baby, and the fact that the nick-name stuck is only the first thing that she holds against her little sister.
Their father, played by John Corbett with a piece of “world’s greatest Dad” memorabilia usually in view, has lost his job and the prospect of having to move to another city might be a very real one. A lot of the movie concerns itself with Ramona’s money-making schemes gone wrong and this all leads up to a sweet conclusion at a wedding that took an unusually short time to put together.
The film has several really terrible scenes that are meant to take place within Ramona’s imagination. Her surroundings turn to cheap CGI and it’s as if no one involved had any insight into a child’s imagination. The film hits its lowest moment near the beginning with a quasi-music video set to “Walking on Sunshine.” Oh, and this sequence plays partially in slow-mo.
There is also a subplot involving a peanut butter commercial that feels pointless to begin with and goes absolutely nowhere. There are actually many plot-holes in this film, almost as if no one bothered to check the continuity. There is also a baby sibling thrown into the mix, who at times seems completely forgotten in the story. Although the first half plays with almost no coherent narrative sense, the last half tells a predictable but thankfully charming story.
When a car gets backed up into a garage, causing paint to spill all over it, I’m sure I’m not the only one that wondered why one guy would have so many random different colours of paint. And I’m not sure the “climactic” water fight needed to be in slow-motion. But honestly, besides a mildly overlong running time, these are pointless complaints as they surely won’t bother the film’s target audience.
Recently, there have been kids flicks a lot dumber (Old Dogs, The Spy Next Door), others a lot more boring (Tooth Fairy), and those that are just plain terrible (Diary of a Wimpy Kid). So when compared to that bunch, we can all be thankful that Ramona and Beezus is never obnoxious and the story is actually wholesome and sweet. When compared to some classics it may pale in comparison, but of the moment this is a harmless diversion for kids that offers little to suffer through for those who take them.
Ramona and Beezus Review by Erin V.
**1/2 (out of 4)
9-year-old Ramona (newcomer Joey King) is a hyperactive kid with a big imagination. Pegged as a pest by her older sister ‘Beezus’ (Selena Gomez), she feels like being the little sister makes it harder for her to get attention – let alone positive attention. When their father loses his job, Ramona will do anything she can to help so that they won’t have to move somewhere else for him to find work.
It is a fine film for kids (to be particularly enjoyed by girls in the 5-9 range) with no objectional content, a sweet story, and not really too annoying for the parents like some films of this genre go. My one real qualm with the film is the use of cheap looking special effects to try to portray her imagination. It didn’t work, looking more like a bunch of slapped together ‘set pieces’ to load the trailer with. Essentially in regards to the animation scenes it seemed like the film was being overly (and needlessly) ambitious in its vision. This would have been a better film in my book just telling its sweet story straight.
There were also other times when elements of the script just seemed to happen with no payoff, suggesting that somewhere along the line of editing, scenes might have been changed around/cut without regard to how it affected the film as a whole. The film could have been slightly shorter too, so it begs the question if the editing could have been tighter, shaving away the scenes that didn’t move the story forward.
Still, if you have young kids looking for a live-action film to see, this is a good one. The acting is fine, the characters are nice, and the story is serviceable.
Ramona and Beezus Review By Nicole
**3/4 (out of 4)
Based on the classic children’s series by Beverly Clearly, Ramona and Beezus takes the modern issue of recession, and shows it through the eyes of a young girl. It also deals with both sibling rivalry and family love. Nine year old Ramona Quimby is a hyperactive child with a big imagination. Being hyper and creative often leaves her labelled as a “pest” by her teenage sister “Beezus,” (whose real name was Beatrice, until dubbed “Beezus” by a then preschooler Ramona), and “uncooperative” at school. Being a younger sister is hard when it seems like all the focus is on the older sister. But when her father loses his job, Ramona fears the family might lose their home. So she sets out on a mission to earn money herself, and to help her father find work.
Ramona and Beezus will be enjoyed by kids, and is charming enough to be enjoyed by adults. Yes, the imagination sequences are corny, and could have been left out. The same can be said for some scenes involving a peanut butter commercial. These scenes added nothing to the movie but time, as they didn’t go anywhere. But overall, Ramona and Beezus is a wholesome movie about a nuclear family. It is one of the few children’s films where the parents are still married to each other and live under the same roof. The acting is decent, and all the characters are very likable. Ramona and Beezus is a cute movie that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Ramona and Beezus Review By Maureen
**3/4 (out of 4)
It’s not easy being the kid who forgets to follow rules, gets lost in imagination, dresses funny, and people think is a pest. Nine year old Ramona Quimby is that girl. Based on the Ramona children’s book series by Beverely Cleary, Ramona and Beezus is family focused, wholesome fun about high-spirited Ramona. Being partial to hyper, high-spirited individuals, I really enjoyed this movie.
The movie focuses on Ramona (Joey King) her troubles at school, her relationship with her sister Beezus (Selena Gomez) and the family coping with Dad’s (John Corbett) job loss. Because she’s in trouble so often, Ramona tries to redeem herself by raising money to save the family home. Of course, nothing goes right and outrageous things such as rainbow coloured paint cans falling on the neighbour’s jeep happens. The only ones who truly understand Ramona are her Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Picky-Picky the cat. Naturally Ramona’s not happy when Aunt Bea starts to fall for Ramona’s best friend Howie’s Uncle Hobart (Josh Duhmel). When Ramona’s not happy, trouble follows.
What works in this movie is the genuine likability and believability of the characters and actors. Ramona and Beezus has a strong cast throughout. What doesn’t always work are the cheesy, cartoonish imagination segments trying to highlight Ramona’s free-spirited thinking. This isn’t an artsy, indie film and it would be fine without the artistic moments. At an hour and 44 minutes it runs a bit too long for most kids. Overall, however this is a charming, wholesome family movie that parents can bring their younger kids to without worrying about language or content. This one’s especially fun for little girls.
Ramona and Beezus Review By Tony
**1/2 (out of 4)
Beezus was the way nine year old Ramona Quimby (Joey King) pronounced the name of her teenage sister Beatrice (Selena Gomez) when she was little. As the middle child, Ramona struggles for acceptance between her popular straight A older sister and adorable baby sister Roberta. Creative and at times hyperactive, Ramona is often getting into scrapes that try the patience of her parents (John Corbett & Bridget Moynahan) and teacher (Sandra Oh). As her mother’s kid sister, only her Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin) seems to understand what Ramona is going through, but Ramona is concerned when Bea appears to be falling again for Hobart (Josh Duhamel), the prodigal boy next door that she had dumped in high school.
Based on a popular series of books and TV shows, Ramona and Beezus is inoffensive and predictable, in many ways a throwback to the sitcoms of my own childhood a half century back, complete with a mispronounced name (though “Beaver” obviously wouldn’t work here) and an Aunt Bea (admittedly of a much different generation than Andy’s “Aint Bea”). Newcomer Joey King carries the film with charm, backed by a good supporting cast. Presumably trying to get the best bits from the book series, at 103 minutes the film is a bit long. Some of the slapstick and minor plot points that don’t go anywhere could have been left out, and some mercifully brief animated fantasy sequences are not up to current standards, but there are some touching moments as well. Overall, Ramona and Beezus is quite watchable for parents, and will appeal particularly to tween and pretween girls.
Consensus: Ramona and Beezus is a wholesome and surprisingly sweet film that can be enjoyed by those of all ages, despite falling short several times due to some CGI-based sequences and a mildly overlong running time. **1/2 (Out of 4)