Time for another movie review! We had a chance this past weekend to see the new Disney flick "The Bridge to Terabithia" which is based on the children's book by author, Katherine Paterson. Although I had read some early review, the movie was not quite what I expected. The Chronicles of Narnia it is not. If you are looking for an action packed, computer animated film, this is not it. If you are looking for a deep and poignant movie about the struggles kids go through to fit in and stand out as well as the power of real friendship, then this is a movie for you. Be forewarned: There are some unexpected events that occur at the end that are quite deep. I am going to share what happens, so if you don't want to know what happens, STOP READING NOW!
Okay, for those of you who are still with me, this story is about the unlikely friendship that develops between two outsiders. Jesse Aarons is a tween struggling to fit in at school and to be validated at home. With four sisters and parents who are struggling to make ends meet, Jesse retreats into his artwork the importance of which his father does not quite understand. The movie starts with Jesse attempting to win a race against the school bullies only to be beaten by the new girl, Leslie Burke. Come to find out, she and her parents just moved in next door to Jesse's family. They are quite a contrast in character. Jesse is quiet and sullen while Leslie is boisterous and fearless.
Needless to say, a friendship forms when they create the magical world of Terabithia in the woods across the creek. They fix up a dilapidated tree house and declare themselves the king and queen of Terabithia. In Terabithia, they are able to conquer all foes who threaten them. These conquests and their deep friendship ultimately help them to handle the adversities they face outside of Terabithia as well.
But alas, just when things are going well, an unexpected tragedy occurs (of course, this is the point I went out to refill the popcorn!). Jesse takes a trip to the museum with the music teacher (whom he kind of fancies). He does not invite Leslie and upon his return, he learns that Leslie drowned while crossing the swollen creek to Terabithia. Jesse is devastated and blames himself for not inviting Leslie. The remainder of the film focuses on Jesse's ability to cope with the loss of his best friend.
I have got to say that I loved this movie! The characters were well developed and the writing was fantastic. The movie captured the complexities of tween-hood. I was particularly impressed with dynamics between Jesse and his father. The screenwriters captured the tension, Jesse's desire to be validated and his father's missed opportunities to connect in a meaningful way.
The movie left me feeling a little sad, a little reminiscent of how difficult it is to be that age and appreciative for all the close friendships I have had that are as special as the one shared by Jesse and Leslie. My husband and kids, on the other hand, were not quite as impressed. My son, age 8, was disturbed by Leslie's death. He said he like the film, but I think it was a little too deep. It was definitely too much dialog for my daughter, age 5. I think they would both have a greater appreciation for this film when they are a little older. I would guess that most ten year olds would identify with the characters in this film.
Okay, here's the breakdown:
- Violence: None.
- Swearing: None.
- Sexual Innuendo: None.
- Action: Very little.
- Dialog: A lot.
- Subject Matter: Friendship, family, creative expression, bullies and loss.
- Audience: Best suited for tweens.
Again, I really thought this was a great film. Would I take my kids to it again? Probably not. I will definitely rent this as a dvd when they are older and would be more likely to appreciate what a deep and moving film this really is.
Did you see the film? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts and whether your kids enjoyed it!