Movie Review

Bridge to Terabithia

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements including bullying, some peril and mild language

Reviewed by: Maggie Hays
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Genre:
Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Length:
1 hr. 36 min.
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
February 16, 2007 (wide)
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures

Why should Christians go to church? How important is it? Answer

Death

Final judgment

Is there an actual place called “Hell”? Answer

Why was Hell made? Answer

Is there anyone in Hell today? Answer

Will there literally be a burning fire in Hell? Answer

What should you be willing to do to stay out of Hell? Answer

How can a God of love send anybody to Hell? Answer

What if I don’t believe in Hell? Answer

The Good News—How to be saved from Hell. Answer

Family Answers HOME page

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Death in the Bible

Featuring: AnnaSophia Robb, Josh Hutcherson, Zooey Deschanel, Lauren Clinton, Bailee Madison
Director: Gabor Csupo
Producer: Lauren A. Levine, David Paterson, Hal Lieberman
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

“Discover a place that will never leave you, and a friendship that will change you forever.”

“Bridge To Terabithia” is very true to Katherine Paterson’s Newbury-award-winning novel. It is also very true to life when you’re a middle schooler dealing with school bullies and stressed-out parents struggling to make ends meet. Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) is that kid who just doesn’t seem to fit in at school or even in his own family. Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb) is the new girl at school who develops a fast friendship with Jess, and together they invent an imaginary fantasy world called Terabithia. This movie deals with many issues young people may face—the trial of riding on the school bus with bullies, putting up with them in class all day, and having parents who, because of their preoccupation with financial stress and a large family, cannot understand their sensitive son. Jess is the poor “farm boy” and Leslie is the advantaged only-child of the writers who live in the nice big house down the road. Jess is from the church-going family of Believers, Leslie has not been expo

Terabithia is from the producers of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” but this is no Narnia. In Narnia the fantasy reigns throughout the whole story, in Terabithia it is really just a small part of the realistic story when Jess and Leslie unleash their imaginations. There are some special effects, and they are wonderful, but they occupy only a part of the movie.

  • Things that I especially liked about this film—Jess and Leslie are played by two very talented and experienced young actors. They are completely believable in this story. They develop great loyalty to each other and their friendship is beautiful to watch.

  • Jess is very loving and kind towards his pesky baby sister, who obviously adores him, and Leslie befriends her as well. This sets a good example for siblings who may see this film.

  • Teachers are shown in a good light in this story—though not at first. They are portrayed as educational professionals who truly care about their students. As a former elementary teacher, I highly approved of this.

  • Jess comes from a church-going family and they take Leslie along one Sunday. She is intrigued by the whole experience and the Bible is discussed on the way home.

  • Leslie employs her imagination to a high degree and, though a fantasy world may not actually appear for your children, it is a good example to tap into the wonderful abilities God has given us. I wonder how many exciting new young writers and artists may appear after viewing this movie…

  • Grief is dealt with great compassion in this story as one of the characters dies. To reveal who, would be a spoiler I can’t bring myself to expose.

  • Bullies, forgiveness, and friendship are all dealt with in this story very realistically.

Things I did not like in this film that parents should know (I am writing this from a mother’s perspective)—

  • Jess’s family is the church-going family, yet Jess’ Dad is the only person who curses in this film, more than once. (Damn). He is a hard man, flawed and impatient with his son and reluctant to show Jess any affection and understanding. Yet, the non-Christian writer (Leslie’s father) comes off accepting, kind and loving. I would have liked to see the opposite in the father’s personalities. Viewing this, some may think that being a Christian does not improve the temperament of a person at all, when just the opposite should be true.

  • Along with the above idea—the children’s conversation on the way home from church showed Jess and his sister warning Leslie that if she doesn’t believe the Bible she will be damned to Hell for ever. This made me feel that the Christians in this movie are portrayed in a somewhat typical Hollywood fashion—judgmental, critical, and negative. While, on the other hand, Leslie and her family are shown to be sweet, kind, successful and loving even though Scripture has no influence in their lives.

Despite the things I might not have liked about this movie, it is a very good story for the entire family, and gives parents many things to discuss with their children. I am glad I took my daughter with me, she loved it, though afterwards we did discuss how Christians were portrayed. As a mother and homeschooler, I don’t think parents should be afraid to take their children to this movie and anything you may find objectionable can be discussed afterward. It would also be a good youth group activity, and would be followed by lively discussion I’m sure.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Positive
Positive—This movie was not what my children (ages 6 and 8) thought it would be. They were expecting something more Narnia-ish and this movie is not about Terabithia. It is about the relationships the children have, their lives, and dealing with complex issues. We all cried during the film, but I believe the storyline was handled as well as it could have been. There were some difficult questions to answer after the movie, however I consider all conversations about the Lord to be good. Some families may not want to expose their children to the sadness that is in this film, I would just recommend being prepared to discuss what happens to unsaved children. All in all it was a good experience for my family.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Sandra, age 32
Positive—I just came home from the movie with my two children ages 8 and 10. We really enjoyed it! We did not go in to the movie with Narnia like expectations. We had read the book, if fact when my 10 year old finished the book he made the comment that the book wasn’t a story about terabithia but a story about two kids. I think that is why we didn’t feel disappointed by the film. I would recommend the film to families with children at least 7 years old and older.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Cindy Pendleton, age 32
Positive—BRDIGE TO TERABITHIA is NOT a fantasy movie. After the success of the burgeoning fantasy franchises, Disney cashing in on the bandwagon by promoting the misleading trailer ad. The fanciful imageries are the imaginations of the children at make believes, and for anyone who had read Katherine Paterson’s classic Newberry awarded novel knows that. The book itself had been #9 on the American Library Association most challenged list. [SPOILER: Hi-Lite the blank space with cursor] It was written to express an experience of her then young son David who had a friend that was struck and killed by lightening. Mrs. Paterson wrote to help heal the young David to come to term with life, love, and loss. The book is not about our comfort zone. It is about the harsh reality of life.

For 17 years, David Paterson, writer and producer of this movie, had been trying to get the movie made true to the book. With the emerging Walden Media, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (BTT) is an accomplished work of cinematic experience. Unlike the 1985 Wonderworks version for PBS, here is a high production value with some of the finest pedigree in the field of the motion art.

Josh Hutcherson is a perfect Jesse Aarons. This young man had grown better with each role he played. AnnaSophia Robb from BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, though unlike the Leslie Burke described in the book, she pulled it off flawless. So did everyone else, especially scene stealer, Bailee Madison as May Belle, Jess’ little tag along sister. Zooey Deschanel was pitched perfect for Ms. Edmond, the cool hippie music teacher, who played a pivotal role in the plot. Director Garbo Csupo maintained a grounded vision with very little flight of fancy so not to be too distracting from the whole of the story.

BTT deals with a lot of complex issues, such as school bullies, family financial problems, loneliness, and even religion. After the church scene and the discussions the children had on the ride home, literally verbatim from the book. Here’s a scene where some Christian may have a problem with. The church going family’s children seemed to be frightened and don’t understand Christ’s sacrifice while the outsider who had just been introduced seemed to understand and being non-judgmental. It maybe hard to see it that way, but that’s how it is with some people, and Katherine Paterson was a child of missionary parents, who herself had planned to followed in her parents’ footsteps.

For the movie itself, BTT have a 70’s period look to it with a few splashes of modern terms and technologies to let know that it supposed to be in today’s contemporaries. Like the teacher Mrs. Myers forbidding the students from downloading, a student with Apple’s infamous white earbuds headphones, and the Aarons sisters watching MTV. [FYI: Keep Your Mind Wide Open performed by AnnaSophia Robb can be heard in the background while the sister flips through the channels.] This movie captured the lower income family in great detail, the ones I’m familiar with, even the school they attend is the same one found in my neighborhood.

There are some mild languages and stylized action sequences, but none of the immature potty jokes or sight gags that are so prevalent in today’s children’s movie.

Disney really need to reconsider better and reverent marketing strategy than misleading parents and fantasy audience. Just because, the same people from WETA who had brought us LTR and Narnia, worked on this family drama, it does not make it a fantasy film. Complain to Disney’s marketers, and not the film makers or authors.

If you do go, BE WARNED: Bring tissues and be prepared to consoles the little ones, if they cling to you.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Mang Yang, age 35
Positive—First of all let me say that this film was not what me or my 9 and 13 year old girls were expecting either. But the more the impact of the movie soaks in, and when I think of the quality of the conversation we had afterwards-I think it was one of the most profound and enjoyable movie experiences I’ve had in a while, and esp. one the whole family can enjoy. I have always gained much insight from this site-both from the reviewers’ standpoint, and the audience members. I don’t always agree, but that’s not the point, I always learn something, and try to learn from others’ viewpoints and insights, and things I might have missed. In this case, I agree almost 100% with the reviewer-except the comment about the two different Dads, and the one who goes to church cussing. To me, this just showed him as more human and fallible and honest-He was genuinely struggling with real life, and not always in the best way. Where as the other Dad’s happiness very well could have been a facade. And the girl’s questions and opinions about going to hell if not believing the bible were honest and believable-even if we as believers didn’t agree with her. The most important thing and most beautiful aspect of the movie was the friendship between the two and how they showed the true fruits of the spirit to each other and others.This movie is about REAL life issues, and succeeds at communicating them in a way a whole family of all ages can discuss like no other movie I can think of. And it also beautifully shows the thin line between reality and fantasy, and how healthy a great imagination can be-in children of all ages. I personally think its short-sighted and misrepresenting to others to negatively review a movie solely based on “It wasn’t anything” like the trailer! Thankfully it wasn’t!!!… We’ve had one great Narnia movie, and we’ll have many more-Narnia this isn’t-and it never was intended to be. Who knows the motives of the movie companies or whoever puts the trailers together. I guess after seeing so many movies-you just have to go in NOT EXPECTING too much, or for a movie to be a certain way. Or even better-research it, there was plenty of info on the web,and esp. for those that were familiar with the book, to know this was not going to be a primarily FANTASY special effects film! I think it is one of the best family films, and also one of the best relationship films to date! Go see it!!!…
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—David P. Momberg, age 45
Positive—I loved this movie!! I took my 8 year old, her friend who is 8 and my 11 year old boy and they also loved this movie. It is about beautiful relationships with some world of imagination. It is about life experiences and although there are some big issues to talk about I thought it was a great movie with wonderful morals. We had no idea that the movie would take the turn it took and I will admit that I was very choked up but I was pleased when Jess took his anger and changed it to love the person they befriended in the beginning(his sister). He ended up bringing her into the world that they created. Leslie always seem to have a special place in her heart toward Jess’ sister. Also, the bully girl was loved even though she had gone so far with her bullying. She ended up turning from her ways. The fact that Jess’ parents were stressed out because of financial matters is completely understandable especially when they are so low in income that Jess had to wear his sisters pink shoes. Although Jess had to endure stress from his dad, mostly, Jess and his father did have a major breakthrough in the end of the film where they had communication and love toward each other. I would recommend this movie for a mature 8 and up as the story has some deep parts emotionally, but, I definitely recommend it. Mom of 4
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Carol, age 38
Positive—BRDIGE TO TERABITHIA is NOT a fantasy movie. After the success of the burgeoning fantasy franchises, Disney cashing in on the bandwagon by promoting the misleading trailer ad. The fanciful imageries are the imaginations of the children at make believes, and for anyone who had read Katherine Paterson’s classic Newbery awarded novel knows that. The book itself had been #9 on the American Library Association most challenged list. [SPOILER: Hi-Lite the blank space with cursor] It was written to express an experience of her then young son David who had a friend that was struck and killed by lightening. Mrs. Paterson wrote to help heal the young David to come to term with life, love, and loss. The book is not about our comfort zone. It is about the harsh reality of life.

For 17 years, David Paterson, writer and producer of this movie, had been trying to get the movie made true to the book. With the emerging Walden Media, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (BTT) is an accomplished work of cinematic experience. Unlike the 1985 Wonderworks version for PBS, here is a high production value with some of the finest pedigree in the field of the motion art.

Josh Hutcherson is a perfect Jesse Aarons. This young man had grown better with each role he played. AnnaSophia Robb from BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, though unlike the Leslie Burke described in the book, she pulled it off flawless. So did everyone else, especially scene stealer, Bailee Madison as May Belle, Jess’ little tag along sister. Zooey Deschanel was pitched perfect for Ms. Edmond, the cool hippie music teacher, who played a pivotal role in the plot. Director Garbo Csupo maintained a grounded vision with very little flight of fancy so not to be too distracting from the whole of the story.

BTT deals with a lot of complex issues, such as school bullies, family financial problems, loneliness, and even religion. After the church scene and the discussions the children had on the ride home, literally verbatim from the book. Here’s a scene where some Christian may have a problem with. The church going family’s children seemed to be frightened and don’t understand Christ’s sacrifice while the outsider who had just been introduced seemed to understand and being nonjudgmental. It maybe hard to see it that way, but that’s how it is with some people, and Katherine Paterson was a child of missionary parents, who herself had planned to followed in her parents’ footsteps.

For the movie itself, BTT have a 70’s period look to it with a few splashes of modern terms and technologies to let know that it supposed to be in today’s contemporaries. Like the teacher Mrs. Myers forbidding the students from downloading, a student with Apple’s infamous white earbuds headphones, and the Aarons sisters watching MTV. [FYI: Keep Your Mind Wide Open performed by AnnaSophia Robb can be heard in the background while the sister flips through the channels.] This movie captured the lower income family in great detail, the ones I’m familiar with, even the school they attend is the same one found in my neighborhood.

There are some mild languages and stylized action sequences, but none of the immature potty jokes or sight gags that are so prevalent in today’s children’s movie.

Disney really need to reconsider better and reverent marketing strategy than misleading parents and fantasy audience. Just because, the same people from WETA who had brought us LTR and Narnia, worked on this family drama, it does not make it a fantasy film. Complain to Disney’s marketers, and not the film makers or authors.

If you do go, BE WARNED: Bring tissues and be prepared to consoles the little ones, if they cling to you.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Mang Yang, age 35
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. Having read the book in elementary school (and it being my favorite) I knew what to expect so I wasn’t caught off guard when Leslie died. There was only one big thing that bothered me and a few small things. There are two scenes where they talk about Jesus/The Bible/death/Hell. The scene just after church, and the scene with the father and Jess in the woods. I know that Jess was upset about Leslie dying, but I wish the father had been honest. I love how honest Maebell is when they are leaving church. Children are definitely like that in real life. In the same scene the comment Leslie makes doesn’t give it away that she dies, but it kind of gives you an idea that something could happen. You also get the same feeling when Jess leaves for the museum. The effects were awesome and the ending is beautiful. This is a great movie for all ages. There were a couple of bad words, but overall it’s a great story. If you know someone who is lost, this is a great way to break the ice by talking about the scene after church.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Jennifer Brown, age 28
Positive—Let me start by saying I read this book in 6th grade, and grew up being able to relate to Jess and Leslie’s lives (as many kids can). The idea of temporarily escaping to a world that’s in your control is nothing new. I was terribly disappointed with the commercials, and afraid that the offending scenes (Leslie’s death and the hell discussion) would be left out in favor of a Narnia clone. Thank goodness David Paterson was involved to keep the story true to the source.

I’m a bit concerned with the comments I’m hearing about how Christianity is portrayed in the movie. In fact, it’s hardly portrayed at all in an easily recognizable (to Hollywood) fashion. The Aaronses go to church, sing hymns, and have read the Bible, but it’s my understanding that our faith is more than those outward signs.

The characterization of Mr. Aarons as “hard…, flawed and impatient” is rather one dimensional and unfair. He’s a hard working man whose own worries and frustrations cause him to be impatient and distant towards his son. Faith in Jesus does NOT make us immune to shortcomings, flaws, or mistakes. Not a single character in this movie is without flaws (which earlier reviewers have pointed out), regardless of faith, choice of career or financial status. Leslie herself notes that her own parents are “kind and loving” only when they’re not absorbed in their work, which seems to be a lot by the way she says it. The change in Jess’s dad at the end shows him doing what anyone (especially Christians) should do: learning from his mistakes and repenting the best way he can. Thank God that this was left in instead of replacing it with a less “flawed” version of the Christian family to which few could relate.

Congrats to the cast and crew for bringing this touching story to wonderful life (if somewhat less powerful than its printed counterpart). The 2000s update manages not to detract from the story at all, while the portrayal of Terabithia (CG creatures based off Jess and Leslie’s real-life obstacles) seemed to fit perfectly.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Jamie, age 22
Positive—I agree with the other comment that the film was not what was expected… but it was a pleasant surprise!! I did attend the movie with my children ages 11, 13 and their friends. They also were expecting something different but really did enjoy the movie. It was excellent. Very touching. It was great to go to a movie that you could whole heartedly recommend to others with out any guilt. I really don’t get the other comment and not sure how they could give this movie a negative review. Seems a little strange to me. Regarding the death of a child in the film, I would bet to say all the others that have commented have many times let their children watch many movie with murder scenes and thought nothing of it. This is a must see.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Micheal J, age 45
Positive—I thought this film was excellent. I took my 9 year old girl and 13 year old son and they loved it. Coming from a large family and an abusive father, although this boy was not physically abused, he was ignored by all in the family, I could relate to his going in a shell life. The friendship that the two kids developed was so beautiful and touching it made me want to make my existing friendships like theirs. The church scene was fantastic. It shows, in my opinion, God loves us for who we are, not what we wear. Also, the ride home from church was great. The message on the ride home from church was we as Christians need to learn how to be Christians all the time and not be Sunday morning Christians and that those that don’t believe can be reached by giving them the bible of our life. It showed that even the non-believer, when reached out to, can have the attitude of “this Jesus guy is real cool.” As far as the ending, it should not have been a surprise if the parents would just review the movie/book. The movie wasn’t about the ending, it was about the relationships of all the characters. One of the best films I have seen in quite some time.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Tim, age 37
Positive—My husband and I went to this movie to preview it before we took our 9-year-old and 4 year-old. We were out on parent date night and joined a group of parents with all ages of children packed in the theater. We were very pleased with the film and with our choice to preview the film before taking our kids. My husband and I came away really liking the movie and feeling very impacted by the story. I had read the book and he had not so the end, yes, was a shocking tearjerker for him (and brought tears for me too.) I felt the film flowed very smoothly and the build to the imaginary world of Terabithia was well-done. I think the focus on the relationships among family and friends, as well as, the judgments people make of others based upon outward appearances was excellently handled. I am disappointed not with the filmmakers but the film marketing for making families believe they were headed to a film about fantasy and magic—when this is a film truly about the human spirit and the connections people create together here in this life. I felt the questions about God and Jesus and church that Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) brings to the forefront of this film create great opportunity for parents to expand upon the meaning of heaven and hell as well as what the meaning of being saved truly is. I think for families raised in a Christian setting to know others may not even be exposed to what they know in the Bible is great to introduce too, as a way of showing your children how they too can witness to their faith. We really enjoyed the movie and urge those attending who have not read the book to read it now—which I think will give the film even greater impact. We will take our 9-year-old back to view it and I think she will really enjoy the film, however, I don’t think our 4-year-old is ready to tackle the themes presented in this film. Great family film for your pre-teens and up!
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Heather R., age 29
Positive—I saw the film not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly supervised to find more to the story than just a fantasy world. Too many times I go to the movies and find that I have practically already seen the whole movie by watching the trailers. This movie was not like that. I found that the movie explained life and death to children in a way that they could understand it. As for the points of the movie that are being taken in a negative way, I disagree completely. I find that the characters who were made out to be Christians were not portrayed in a negative fashion so much as they were portrayed as sinners that have found God and were still working on things in their lives. We all go through that. Christians aren’t perfect, so I liked that they didn’t portray them as a snooty holier than thou family. In this day in age we need to support movies like this, and stop finding something bad about every movie out there. It was a great movie, and I can’t wait to buy it when it comes out on DVD.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Tawnya, age 22
Positive—Personally I loved this film! It is a great film about imagination, friendship, and individuality. I liked how Leslie inspires Jess to use his imagination, or as she puts it “Keep your mind wide open.” I also liked the fact that the film stayed pretty true to the book. The main thing that I didn’t like about the film was the use of profanity by Jess’s father, but it wasn’t any worse than what you here on TV, but that still doesn’t make it right.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Jeremy Miller, age 26
Positive—I was not sure I wanted to see this movie and checked this site before agreeing to take my 8 year old. It started with rather brutish children treating each other badly and I was afraid I made a mistake in deciding to bring my 8 year old. However, during the movie, the symbolism of good and evil, how hearts can change when true events and human nature are affected and tested, was very moving. I am sure anyone attending expecting to see a Sci-Fi epic might be disappointed, but they probably missed what I thought was the point of this film, which is being able to see the forest through the trees—take courage. It also takes looking up and allowing people and things into your life and heart. The symbolism between the forest life and the school life were parallels. Mean animals = mean kids, nice giant troll made nice by dog tickling = nicer mean girl at school by someone caring, scary dark creature in forest = scary mean dad at home… all things changed when hearts were opened by death of special girl. Sound somewhat familiar?
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Diana Saufley, age 43
Positive—This is a film that opens the door to a question that your children will inevitably be confronted with: Are good people who love and appreciate life and God, but do not know about Jesus’ salvation going to be damned to hell? If you are not prepared to discuss this with your children, then do not take them to see it. However, if you are prepared, this presents a wonderful, controlled setting in which you have the opportunity to know that the question will be asked, and you will actually be with there to guide them through this difficult period of questioning.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
—GJ Smith, age 48
Positive—This commentary contains—not on purpose—a SPOILER, so keep away from children—although parents may wish to know what’s coming in the film.

Having viewed this film with my 9 year old daughter, engaged her in dialogue and received her views and having read many reviews and given much thought I offer the following about this intriguing film. It is to the many reviews which are concerned with a negative portrayal of Christians based on the character of Josh’s father and the “damned to hell” dialogue that I direct the following perspective.

I believe that the Christian message may shine through not directly as a result of it but definitely in spite of the film’s Hollywoodesque agenda and that this treatment of the Christian message is rather more delicate and sophisticated than is recognized by the reviews I’ve seen.

I found that the character of Leslie modeled, rather brilliantly, the Christian principles of forgiveness of one’s enemies, hope and loving engagement as well as a deep appreciation of God’s sovereignty, despite the fact that her parents never attended a church. Interestingly, my daughter (who does attend church) believed Leslie to be an excellent role model for Christian behavior, based on biblical principles. I held this view as well.

Where I thought the film to be more delicate, and quite astute, is in the fact that the the “damned to hell” explanation—provided by the much younger sister character and not one of the adult Christian family members—was treated more as a valid representation of how a child or a foreign cultured person might view the existing tension within the murky pop media-dominant “church goer as believer versus non-church goer as non-believer issue.”

At the same time this dialogue allows the Leslie character to possess an undeveloped and unfettered sense of Divinity, which in the light of a talented director is truly glorious.

I also thought that the father’s attitudes were more than sympathetically and fairly attributed in the film to the struggles of financial burden and a mean lifestyle rather than faith driven harshness. This sympathy is as radical a departure from the typical anti-Christian chords that usually bind modern films together as I’ve ever seen.

Because of the audience demographic, I think that the filmmakers left a very wide open gap in which to discuss these themes with your children. For example: We talked about how Jesus had already reached into Leslie’s heart so deeply that she was a beautifully Christ-like model even though she had not been introduced to Him through her parents or church yet. We also discussed how Christ can and does reach directly into a person’s heart and does not need an American church service to do it. We identified how through Leslie, Josh was also touched by Christ’s love enough to have the strength to cope with his family’s financial struggles and their impact on his relationship with his father.

Finally, I discussed with her my views about movie makers, Hollywood and how although Leslie’s death was designed to leave one self-aware and burdened with—the ostensibly despicable—question of “did this wonderful beautiful loving little girl go to hell or heaven?” that we as Christians need not pay attention to Hollywood’s eternal moral dilemma; we already have the definitive answer in biblical scripture about the promise of salvation. All in all a wonderful discussion for which I am grateful to the filmmakers.

So despite the first inclination to believe so, no character—or the overall film—is truly portrayed with the typically characteristic “either Christian bigot or agnostic good person” choice that Hollywood loves to represent as the only two choices for life.

It would be unfair to the Christian movie goer to leave a review with that notion and unfair to the film to not credit it with some significant measure, intended or not, of opportunity for both Christian edification of believers and their children and evangelism of non believers. Take your children over 7 and their friends! This movie gets it right!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Julie Miller, age 38
Neutral
Neutral—My children (ages 8 and 11) were very excited to see this movie, which was a book I enjoyed very much as a child. The movie trailer promotes the film as fantastical (similar to the Narnia adaptation). Although I know the story from the book, I was also led to believe that the film would elaborate on the imaginary land of Terabithia and downplay the social and spiritual issues. However, quite the opposite was true.

The highly anticipated special effects and magical parts of the film were very infrequent while the heavy bullying, family conflict and grief were the highlights. While we loved the parallels between the imaginary and coping skills, the heavy sadness of Jess’s family, the relationship with his father, the bullying and eventually the grief at the end of the film was over the top for my children. They were expecting an upbeat movie of friendship and fantasy and instead were left heavy laden with grief and then uncertainty of Jess’s salvation.

Another disturbing aspect of the film for Christians is how the “Christian” family is portrayed (poor, stressed, argumentative and unloving) while the neo-hippy/new age family was successful, upbeat and loving. And of course this was highlighted by the typical Hollywood portrayal of Christianity or “church” as stuffy and rigid (Jess tells Leslie that she “has to wear a dress” to church, and if she does not believe in the Bible she is “damned to hell”).

Lastly, and this is more disturbing from a current events viewpoint, I thought the relationship between Jess and his music teacher was borderline inappropriate. It was great that she encouraged his artistic talent and normal that he would have a crush on her, but what was strange was how their ensuing relationship developed. I found it offensive that Jess’s sister called the teacher “his girlfriend” when she called him at home, and odd that she asked him (a child and student) to go to the museum rather than asking one of his parents. The relationship is portrayed as very strange when Jess confronts his teacher regarding how they should have invited Leslie to go as well. That situation just seemed too similar to the inappropriate teacher/student relationships plaguing the schools nowadays.

When I asked my children if they liked the film one said “Not really” and the younger (age 8) said “I didn’t get it.” From a Christian perspective for kids, I don’t think young children will “get” all of the undertones and will definitely not be entertained by the various themes and grief. I would say this film is too heavy for young children and tweens (expecting more Narnia-like entertainment) and not as entertaining as the trailer led us to believe.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
—Dawn, age 35
Neutral—I believe that since the filmmaker did such a great job of evoking a strong yet complex emotion from an adult such as myself that perhaps this movie should have a PG-13 rating to caution parents about the strength of the sad emotion it may create. I rarely cry and yet I was so sad and surprised by this since I had only thought it was an adventure in fantasy movie (my fault completely).

As an adult, I enjoyed thinking about all the complex personality situations that occurred in this movie. Personally though, I really do not think most children under age 13 would say they liked this movie due to the seriousness and sadness over the death of the most loving, sweet and imaginative character (very well cast).

To me it was shocking as if little Lucy would have died in Narnia. It would not have worked at all to keep going with the rest succeeding without her.

Though it was certainly implied, remind your kids that Jess’s family were not necessarily born again Christians. They may or may not have been. Just because they attended church does not mean they are Christians. The were all acting like very normal defeated people that just attended church on Sunday morning and then conducted the rest of their life the rest of the week without giving Christ a thought or prayer.

Leslie went along one Sunday and afterward commented on how she thought the story of Jesus was beautiful (while pointing out that they all seemed miserable though they said they believed it) but she feels pretty certain that God would never damn anyone to hell because He is too busy with nature. That is a problem. She was the most likeable and loving character by far. Too loving to imagine anyone could go to hell ?

I kept wondering after her death if Jess or his sister would see Leslie in Terebithia since they were keeping their “minds wide open.” I couldn’t help but wonder if the writer of this book feels that believing in Christ as the only Way, Truth and Life are too narrow.

That Leslie in Unitarian type of thinking is excepting of the wider way to heaven… or possibly that you make your own heaven. I could be looking into to this more than I should but the movie was the one who included religion and Jesus. Perhaps if I could rewrite the ending I would have Jess’s family become born again believers, ask all their children for forgiveness and then try and evangelize to Leslie’s parents to give them real hope.

Also, a reminder to kids about the dangers of swinging over water. I should have seen it coming when they even commented about the size of the water and yet I forgot about the danger. Perhaps that is great lesson in itself. We forget about danger when we can keep doing the same dangerous thing over and over and not have anything bad happen. One day we will all have our last day. Will we be able walk onto the only eternal narrow “bridge” to Jesus? Or will we keep swinging on the rope and hoping it will become less dangerous?
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—T Schutt, age 39
Positive—A good movie, though not what one is expecting. I felt the expectations for a Fantasia-like world to burst forth at any given moment distracted from the true value of this production until one reconciles the fact that the movie is not what the advertisements appeared to be selling. The CGI’s are well done, but only comprise a small part of the movie. Narnia it isn’t.

Nor is it the usual Hollywood “fluff.” There is some serious meat to this movie related to loss and grief. It opened the door to a wonderful prolonged discussion about some Godly things between myself and my 13 year old nephew. I would not recommend this movie for young children because of a shocker part way through. To say any more would be a spoiler.

The only thing that keeps me from giving this movie a rating of “Good” is the inaccurate stereotyped impression of Christianity. The hard-working church-going family is stressed, harried, worried and distant with each other while the family who hadn’t bothered exposing their child to Christ are the greatest thing since sliced bread. The church-going father was the only source of mild swearing, and the Sunday School had infused the young daughter with a “hellfire and damnationgospel. I found the contrast a little stark, though not totally unexpected from a secular film.

That being said, I would reiterate that this is the best movie I have seen in a while. Good movie-making, good cast, good human drama. Refreshingly wholesome for a secular production. The young leading actors give a powerful performance.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—C. Gable, age 43
Neutral—I am always stunned at parents who don’t take the time to research movies before taking their kids to see them. first of all, you can never rely on a trailer as a guide to what the movie is like. everyone knows that movies are “marketed” and frequently the trailer highlights the most exciting bits of a film… naturally… they are trying to entice the audience to see it. the movie was rated “PG”. here is how the MPAA describes a PG-movie:
“This is a film which clearly needs to be examined or inquired into by parents before they let their children attend. The label PG plainly states that parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, but the parent must make the decision. Parents are warned against sending their children, unseen and without inquiry, to PG-rated movies. The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. But these elements are not deemed so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated film. The PG rating, suggesting parental guidance, is thus an alert for examination of a film by parents before deciding on its viewing by their children. Obviously such a line is difficult to draw. In our pluralistic society it is not easy to make judgments without incurring some disagreement. So long as parents know they must exercise parental responsibility, the rating serves as a meaningful guide and as a warning.” (end of MPAA quote)
Clearly many PG-movies are not meant for toddlers, preschoolers and/or kindergartners. if you are taking your child to see a movie, it is your responsibility to learn about it BEFORE you get to the theatre. anyone who read a review of BTT would have known what the true content was. I frequently see children at movies that are inappropriate for their age and/or maturity level. come on parents …spend some time researching before showing up at the theatre. Otherwise, you have no right to complain.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—annie vince, age 45
Negative
Negative—No Comparison to Narnia! I have 2 children ages 10 and 6, who were so excited to see this film, after viewing the “Previews” for weeks on TV We were expecting a “dream land” to appear at any moment, when a nightmare hit ¾ of the way through the movie. When the little girl died, out of nowhere… the theatre full of children and young girls was stunned! I looked at my shocked husband, and I just wept for the next 15 minutes. (along with the other parents and kids in the room). We went to this movie expecting to laugh, and explore a new imaginative world… which by the way only appears the last 20 seconds of the film. My husband talked to another dad after the movie (which was one of our soldiers home from the war), and he said, and I quote “I feel cheated!” His little girls looked like they were 4 and 5. Not what he thought he was taking his babies to see either. I guess if you want to see a movie on how to handle death, this is the movie for you! They should have marketed it that way, instead we were mislead that this film is something it isn’t! Sadly disappointed, C.P.M. (Children’s Pastor’s wife)
My Ratings: Average / 2
—Candee Masters, age 35
Negative—I took my two boys 9 and 11 and their friends to see this movie tonight, and we left the theater somewhat dumbfounded by the story. This movie is about death and ultimately where we go when we die and to be open-minded about that. It is a movie that is billed as something that it is not. Our home is a home where kids congregate and a lot of them have some issues that are hard to deal with such as parents divorcing, a parent who died, a parent who is a drug addict etc. so when they come over it is knowing that it will be a lighthearted fun time, which is what we thought this movie would be. I could tell when I left the theater that the kids were bothered by the whole thing. There is nothing I detest more than being deceived by people who want to spread their own concept of what life means.

To me the whole storyline boiled down to one point that the writers, producers etc wanted to make clear. It was when the three kids were sitting in the back of the pickup leaving church and the girl pointed out that people who believe in Jesus are afraid of God but that she didn’t believe in Him and she thought He was beautiful and that we all need to be “open-minded” and there is more than one way to find God. It is an old storyline that is used many times by people who consider themselves elite and all knowing and need to show the ones who are narrow-minded what God is really suppose to be like. So I had impressionable kids with me searching for answers and unwittingly took them to a movie that planted a seed of deception, and it really upset me.

I am writing this review to warn parents that this is not a typical fantasy movie and that most of the movie is about life’s issues and how to deal with them through fantasy.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3½
—Pamela Allen, age 40
Negative—My husband and I were extremely disappointed in this film. The previews were misleading and we were completely blind-sided by the issues in the movie. From watching the previews we thought we were going to see a fantastic movie about imagination and friendship. Our 9 year old daughter was excited to see it. We thought it would be more like Narnia, especially since it was made by the same producers. The movie starts off with the stress of bullies, then goes into the stress at home with Jess. His parents (dad especially) pay more love and attention to his little sister and his dad is emotionally rough on Jess. Jess and Leslie develop a friendship and start using their imagination to create the kingdom of Terabithia. Then, out of the blue Jess gets notified that Leslie drowned in the creek and we go through the anguish with Jess and having to go over and pay respects to Leslie’s family. Next, Jess goes back to the creek and his little sister follows him, he gets angry and yells at her and pushes her down. Then, the father follows him and is emotionally supportive (finally) when Jess breaks down and cries and blames himself for Leslie’s death. He also asks his father if Leslie will go to hell since she didn’t believe in the Bible. We finally walked out when Jess is trying to get his little sister to forgive him. It was too emotionally heavy when you are completely not expecting anything but fun and fantasy. We are very upset that the advertisements were misleading.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—Angela, age 35
Negative—I have waited for weeks for this movie to come out. The previews of the movie made the appearance of it being a make-believe story where you could escape into the Land of Taribethia. Most of the movie dealt with the family dynamics of both Jess and Leslie. Although I will say I was enjoying to movie until the drastic event of Leslie’s death. It blind sided the viewer. The theater was filled with children. Myself and others in the theater were crying. I went to movie to be entertained and that was not the feeling I left with. On the way out I could over hear others saying what a disappointment the movie was. When we got home I told my daughter we had gone to see the movie and she said she had plans to take my grandchildren, ages 3 and 5. Both my husband and myself said “don’t.” And explained that the movie was not what it was portrayed to be on the trailers. Overall, I am sorry we spent the money to go see this film.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Sue Helley, age 51
Negative—My family and I were excited to see Bridge to Tarabithia and loved about the first half of the movie. The characters were real and loveable, and the troubles they dealt with were handled excellently. Bullies were realistic and we loved that Leslie and Jess got to know and understand that bullies are people with problems too, etc. I think the discussion about the Bible in the scene on the way home from church was negative, although it unfortunately does show what many people think God says about damning people to Hell. No one clarified what the Gospel really says, although Jess’s family were “churchgoers.” The overall way Jess’s family and father were portrayed as being poor, stressed, and not getting along at all, versus Leslie’s who were loving, successful, clearly put Christians in a negative light.

We were just stunned when Leslie died—it was out of the blue, and not really for a reason. The whole theatre was stunned and sniffing. And what was worse was that the situation around her death made it seem like her friend Jess could and should have prevented it! The part of the movie after her death did nothing to redeem the meaninglessness of it. I know death happens—I don’t expect to shield my kids from that fact—but here it just seemed like a way to wrap up the movie and end at a certain time or something. The young teacher that Jess had a crush on called him on a Saturday morning—to basically take him on “a date”—purposely not bringing Leslie-it seemed on both their parts. Jess asked his mother—who appeared to be sleeping in—while her squabbling, lazy, teen daughters watched the baby of the family—with all their money troubles… seems this Mom could pick up a part time job of her own… and she groans which he takes as approval to take off to the museum with his young teacher. This whole scenario was just unnerving—it wasn’t in keeping with Jess’s character—especially after he gave Leslie such a long, loving, look the afternoon before on their way home, as if to illustrate that he loved her and their friendship.

The Dad was too hard on Jess, but he did come through in consoling Jess, and was much warmer than the Mom. Dad was the only one in his family who we saw make any effort after this boy lost his best friend. The little sister was cute and funny—and I understand the gesture of the bridge because Leslie was a good builder etc. But the little sister was never left out really. Jess was always close with her—he had little or no contact with his other siblings.

We did talk, but only because we’re all just sad and heartbroken. I don’t understand what the point of this was. I understand remembering the beautiful girl Leslie was, keeping her memory alive, the good things she brought to Jess etc. Nothing I saw pre-this movie gave any hint of death—the sudden tragic death of a child—being the main event in the movie. It should be shown that way! We went to see the friendship, the imagination and adventures, and how the troubles that kids can give each other are over-ridden by a good friendship, and that you can even win over your enemies. That’s what we understood this movie to be about—from all the publicity on the Disney channel etc. It did that—but didn’t need this. I won’t recommend this to anyone. Life lessons of that magnitude should come from family—not movies—and definitely include explanations and consolation from the Bible. Not a glorification of common misinformation and opinion.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Anita, age 39
Negative—My husband and 8 year old daughter and I were very disappointed in this movie. Be prepared for an emotional “slice of life” outing, not an exciting upbeat experience. This movie’s trailers and advertising were very misleading. There is anti-Christian messages and negative portrayal of Christians in general. Some of the movies dark characters were also frightening for my 8 year old who couldn’t wait to get home. We did use the experience to once again discuss the misleading information that Hollywood puts out about salvation. Parents be prepared.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4
—Beth Gillette, age 42
Negative—Basic message of the movie: God is cool, but the Bible is stupid. The good and moral people were the New Age mystics that were non-Christians, and the Christians were portrayed as judgmental and stupid for believing in what the Bible teaches. Very offensive for Christians.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Troy, age 28
Negative—I read the negative messages, and I agree with most of them. I really did not know much about the movie nor the book when I watched this movie. After the movie, my family and I was very upset, offended and disappointed as moviegoers and as christians. One big issue I have is that this movie states, “God does not damn people to hell.” Yes, if little kids are too young to understand the plan of salvation, they are not accountable, but if they heard the truth and died—yes God will judge and damn one to hell. This movie sells the fact that we have a loving God that allows us as sinners to just live and let live without the deep relationship we need to give God. This personal relationship between us as sinners and God through His only begotten Son is explained/illustrated throughout the Bible. If we do NOT go through His only begotten Son we are dammed to hell. Plain and simple, to be dammed to hell we do not have to do anything, but to gain eternal life, we have to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. I say this to warn christian families against movies like this. I would rather christians watch a horror flick (I do not recommend) than watch this movie because at least one knows where they stand if they watch a horror flick, this movie will deceive you on where you should stand. Horror flicks are clearly wrong because we know as christian soldiers that we should flee from evil, but this movie will lie by manipulating love, friendship, and families to make people stray away from truth of being born again (the heart and soul of being a true christian)
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
—Melvin Ascio, age 36
Negative—My wife and I both screened the movie prior to its release. I thought very well of the movie, except I was very offended by the blatant anti-Christian, anti-Bible comments by the children. It is a shame to the producers/writers to include such unnecessary mockery of a major world religion. I would feel the same if they had mocked any other religion. It simply is not necessary, and it feeds anti-religious sentiments.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 5
—Derrell B. Thomas, age 57
Negative—I went to see this movie with my daughter (age 10) and son (age 7). From the previews we expected an imaginary land to play a prominent place in the movie… and instead most of the movie covered children’s social issues. This would have been okay had we expected it in advance because I could have prepared my kids for it. What you see in the previews has a very small place in the film.

While it had some very good teachable moments throughout the film, there were some negatives that left me with an overall negative impression. The boy’s parents were always pretty harsh with him. (They were generally “short” on temper when talking with him, they discouraged his natural artistic ability, and they placed a lot of emphasis on getting his chores done before eating a meal.) The movie then revealed this family as church-going people, and the church itself was shown in the movie to be a “lifeless” place.

In contrast, the girl’s parents were shown as well-to-do, encouraging, loving and understanding—not only with their own daughter Leslie, but also with the boy (Jess) himself. And it’s clear from the story that Leslie’s parents have nothing to do with a church. It propagates the same old false stereotype.

Then there is the talk about the Bible and Jesus between Jess, his little sister Maybelle, and Leslie. While it can be considered as instructive as to how some people make some big mistaken assumptions about the Bible and our Lord Jesus, I thought the way it was presented was inappropriate for a children’s movie. The scene (indeed, the entire movie) is about Leslie leading Jess to “keep his mind wide open.” One can be left with the impression that Leslie is again “right” in her conversation and that Jess is “closed-minded” in holding to the truth about Scripture.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Don Lance, age 40
Negative—Wow… my husband and I just saw this movie thinking we were going to see a film about children and a fairy tale world. Oh, how wrong we were. There was not much about Terabithia at all in this movie. It was mostly about two children and the misery of growing up. We were so disappointed, as were the other people in the theatre. We all just left staring blankly at one another, as though none of us could believe what we had just seen. When we came home, my husband went directly to the computer and replayed the trailer so we could compare. Sure enough, what they advertised was nothing like what we had just seen. It was so depressing, it had me crying… and that’s not something I do at movies. Above all, it did not redeem itself at the end. We all felt cheated. The only positive I have is that there was no sexual content, and the kids did a great acting job. Besides that, I have nothing good to say. I was completely robbed.
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—Janel, age 27
Negative—I took my 5-year-old to see this movie earlier tonight—without checking Christian Spotlight first (shame on me). Truthfully, my son’s age was the saving grace—he was old enough to “get” and enjoy the most blatant fantastic, social and spiritual themes, while missing the more pervasive and disturbing subtleties. There are numerous other comments already posted that point out most of those subtleties so I won’t re-hash or add to them. What I find most disturbing, dangerous and yet unaddressed is that this film is SUBTLEY YET FORCEFULLY ANTICHRIST.

Leslie is as beautiful and bright a young person as we are likely to find in a mainstream movie today—by far the most endearing, brave and heroic (dare I say angelic) character portrayed in the film. Paraphrasing, in a discussion among children in the back of a pick-up on the way home from church, Leslie states that: 1) unlike Jess and his sister, she has not been forced (presumably by her parents or a closed mind) to believe that the Bible is true and thus doesn’t; 2) she finds the account of Jesus and his death to be a “beautiful” tale (i.e., a creative and imaginative literary tragedy)—rather than serious, factual and of the utmost importance; and 3) her version of god is too busy managing the earth to judge or damn anyone. In accord, Jess’ father (who apparently attends church each Sunday with his family) was asked by Jess whether Leslie had gone to Hell when she died. Again paraphrasing, the father responded that he didn’t know how God could damn someone like her.

Of course, we all know 1 John 2:22, which states “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist “he denies the Father and the Son.” Yet even listening to Leslie, I almost immediately began to minimize the full and obvious assault on the most fundamental of truths! “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14. What clever work of the enemy—such clever work that some of the folks who’s reviews and comments are posted here seem to have entirely missed it or counted it “good” since the Bible and/or Jesus was discussed openly.

In light of what I have just written, I am ashamed to admit that I LIKED THE MOVIE. It was only after coming home that the lines began to weigh so heavily on my heart—they are lines pregnant with the same terrible lies that the crafty serpent pitched to Eve and were bought back in the Garden of Eden. And, although I sound a bit fanatical even to myself as I proofread this comment, I am convicted that I must, in love for Christ and my fellow brothers and sisters, point that out here.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” 1 John 4:1-6.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4½
—Angela Jones, age 37
Negative—If you’re expecting an imaginative movie for the children, this is not it! What seems like it may be a fantasy world, instead takes a sharp turn and is a hard lesson in dealing with horrible loss—and a loss that is purposely played up for all it is worth. I go to “kids” movies to be entertained. Both my friend and I felt depressed when leaving the theater.

It was brought up in the review, but I also want to bring up that the family which has nothing to do with church or Jesus is seen as the fun loving family who embraces life with open arms while the “Christian” family is dour and closed. For once I would like to see Hollywood break their stereotype. Even according to secular studies, active church goers report happier lives and live longer, but you wouldn’t know it from what is shown on film.

Finally, there is talk in more than one scene about going to Hell, but never any mention of the positive impact that knowing Christ has to those on this earth now, and that is truly sad.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
—Bill Bagot, age 41
Negative—I had trouble deciding how to express my opinion of this movie. It was the first time I’d ever taken my child to a movie without screening it beforehand. Imagine my shock… the cinematography and the acting in this film was really good. Overall, I enjoyed the sweetness of the friendship between the two main characters and the genuineness of the problems they faced in their day-to-day lives. I have to echo the sentiments of those who’ve said that the overall tone of this movie were negative toward christians: the “church” people were basically poor, frustrated, harsh and negative while the free-spirited “unchurched” people were portrayed as more stable, loving, vivacious and supportive. (Notice I didn’t say “christian or non-christian” people because no character in the film portrayed a positive understanding of the gospel or exemplified a life fully surrendered to Christ.)

I was blind-sided by the death in the film and by the two conversations about being damned to hell. The typical “Hollywood” interpretation of “good people” going to heaven was so shallow in this film that my child questioned me about where Anna Robb’s character would truly have gone if she died (since she clearly stated that while the story of Jesus was beautiful, but she chose not to believe it or to believe what the Bible said about hell.)

While I usually welcome things that springboard conversations about friendship, loyalty and faith, I was terribly disappointed when I left the theater. Leslie’s death was exceedingly sad and as a believer, it was upsetting to see the essential truth of God’s word pushed aside as “optional,” and the focus being placed on feeling good about how Leslie’s open-minded life had touched others. If the issue of “church,” or of Jesus and heaven/hell had never been brought into the storyline, it would have been a bit easier to just ride the wave of emotion and leave the theater thinking, “Leslie’s vivaciousness for life touched everyone and the friendship of the two characters was so beautiful.” Instead I walked away with the knowledge that Leslie’s open rejection of the gospel showed clearly where the child would spend eternity and that, even sadder than her death, was the fact that the “church people” didn’t understand the gospel enough to realize she was in hell.

The most positive comment I can make is that the cloudy misunderstanding of the gospel that permeates the storyline is incredibly realistic in today’s world.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Lynn, age 39
Negative—…This is the devil’s corrupted take on Chronicles of Narnia. I hope anyone that reads this has seen CoN and loved it. CS Lewis was a great man and someone we should all admire. He led a lot of people to Christ, and I hope that the people reading this have that goal in their heart. Remember that this movie takes on the banner of being one that is teaching a lesson to children. Do the people that like this movie forget 1 Corinthians 10:32? Here let me refresh your memory. “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God.” I saw this movie, and it was all I could do to keep from vomiting. This movie tackles God and the Christian view on God. He is made out to be a damning child killer that sends poor sweet children to hell for no reason. In fact, it’s the opposite that is true. As we know from the bible “it’s God’s” will that no one should perish, but that all should have everlasting life. After all he sent his only son to die for our sins. This movie also makes Christians out to be dumb rednecks that cannot love their children correctly. Yet in this move the parents that do not go to church are better parents and more loving and forgiving. We all know that when “The Passion of the Christ” came out the devil responded with the “Da Vinci Code.” This is obviously his retaliation to Chronicles. As Christians let us not fool ourselves. Hell is a very real and very horrible place. And any man that denies Jesus on earth, Jesus will deny them before the father. It is just that simple. I would urge any Christian not to watch this movie or even talk about it. Don’t give the devil the attention he does not deserve. Remember that no man serves two masters. If you help the devil with his movie are you really able to say you serve God? And as for the children angle, sure the devil wants you to question your faith. He wants you to say “God would send this sweet girl to hell.” I felt like it was the devil himself said that. God sends no one to hell. It is our sin that sends ourselves to hell. And this movie directly attacks our children. It’s this movies goal that our CHILDREN be sent to hell. Go to your children and teach them. Get them in the word and turn away from the evil one.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
—Jacob Waldrop, age 27
Comments from young people
Positive—My friends and I have been waiting for this movie to come out, hoping that disney would do the book justice (Bridge to Terabithia is our favorite book), and to our surprise and delight, they did just that. The actors were believable, you were constantly drawn into the story, and you could really see the work they put into this film! I do have a warning, though. If you are not familiar with the book, expect the unexpected. The story takes a very unfortunate turn around the middle of the movie (since I read the book I expected it). It was extremely sad, and everyone was crying. I cried for the last half hour of the movie. Overall, Bridge to Terabithia is a story about real kids, in the real world. It is a very touching and beautiful story, and I plan on seeing it again.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Elizabeth, age 13
Neutral—I saw this movie with my family. My parents liked it and my siblings thought it was awesome. I thought that it was dumb. The only thing that might be considered offensive were that a christian dad swore a few times. I didn’t like that *SPOILER AHEAD* the girl died. This movie is definitely a kid movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
—Bob, age 12
Positive—This movie was pretty good. It was a lot different from what I was expecting. The movie was definitely not all about Terabithia. It was more about friendship. The movie did get very sad. The father cursed a few times. But other then that I think it was okay. This is a great movie to see when you get the chance!!
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Carolyn, age 13
Positive—I must say I’m very disappointed. Not at all in the movie. But in the way that most people have taken this movie. I see mostly negative comments here. This saddens me so much. Ok, I saw this movie just the other day. My sister came home to visit from the school she is attending in NYC. We wanted to go see a good movie with her, so, I looked into “The Bridge to Terabithia.” I had seen the trailers, but still didn’t know what the movie was about exactly. I looked up some reviews online, and found out the basic idea of the storyline. Let me just tell all of you reading this: It is a very good idea to check out the synopsis and reviews from fellow Christians and all BEFORE viewing a film. Too many times people get so mad about the movies they see because it wasn’t what they had expected, and they never even looked into it themselves! But anyway, I have to tell you. This movie was one of the best I’ve seen in the theater in a long time. I don’t know about all you, but I myself like movies that actually mean something. That don’t have shallowness to them. That actually create a discussion topic for your family after viewing. That’s why I loved this movie. I loved the fact that it wasn’t just fantasy. I loved that it had deeper meanings to it. It had many layers and everything came perfectly together in the end. It was beautiful. You’d think that people would want to go to the cinema to see something that will touch their hearts and change their minds for the better in some way. I wouldn’t want to go to the theater and spend all my money on a shallow magic story about a crazy world some kids dream up. I would want something more, and deeper.

I also loved the way they put God into the story. You hardly ever hear the name of Jesus in a movie. Hollywood is usually very, very careful when it comes to it. But the movie states things boldly, I liked that. And this film really tells you reality. There are many over-religious “Christians” out there, like Jess’s family. It showed that they went to church religiously and really were trapped in the rules and regulations of it all. And basically it ended making them unhappy. It showed how the girl had the true spirit of what God wants us Christians to be. She had Jesus’ attitude about her. It was wonderful to see her innocence and integrity and faith, even though she never went to church religiously or read the Bible. And I loved how the character of the boy really shows, especially at the end when he asks his dad if Leslie has gone to hell. It really opens your eyes to what the religion of Christianity can do to people, and especially children, we need to live more faith bound. Even in the Bible, we see that Jesus hated the practice of “religion.”

All in all, a wonderful film. It is very deep as I said before, so even though trailers fool you, it will be hard for young children to understand. It is pretty thematic. But I enjoyed this film. It was amazing.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Amy, age 16
Positive—Okay, no offense to anybody. But it is not the movie’s fault that you didn’t read the book. I’m really tired off people saying that it is a bad movie just because they didn’t know that something sad was going to happen. You don’t have to put the movie down, just warn people. Besides if the commercial showed (SPOILER AHEAD) that the girl died it would ruin the movie. I think that the movie was great, if followed the book and didn’t change barely anything. Really great movie. For ages 9-14. Enjoy!
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Karma, age 13
Positive—This movie was very well done. It was adventurous and fun. I thought it went a little too emotional to have Leslie drown, but that was the way the book was written. The actors were very good and the scenery was beautiful. I plan on buying the movie when it comes out.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Ellen, age 13
Neutral—I went with my brother and his best friend, and we were very surprised how good it was. There were a couple of cuss words and a few crude humor, but other then that it was very good. I would not bring the little kids to go see this. Very well made though!
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Shawn, age 15
Positive—I saw this movie the day after it came out with my two sisters—ages 15 and 11. We all had been wanting to see it since we saw the previews on TV. All of us liked it. I read the book, So, I knew that the girl (Leslie) was going to die at the end. My little sister was really sad though, and she said it ruined the movie for her. I really liked the movie, and I thought that it made a good point. My family is going to buy it on DVD.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Ashley, age 13
Positive—I loved the movie. It brought up important topics like death and grief, bullying, etc. I’m glad they didn’t overdo the fantasy aspect of the movie, since the book spends very little time on it as well. The book was more about the social interaction of the kids, and I thought the movie played that out well. Overall, great movie!
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Beth, age 17
Negative—…I really did not like the movie. It was twice as cheesy as anything. I think I would rather have went to my friend’s house and watched paint dry.… I also thought that there were some unnecessary parts; when they were driving home in the back of a pickup, Jess’s sister was saying “if you don’t believe God, he’ll da** you to he**!” and Leslie comments that god is to busy to da** people.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
—Bob, age 11
Positive—This was an all in all, great movie! My brother, mom, and I went to go see it together expecting a non-fantasy story from all the reviews we had read, but we were pleasantly surprised. The story was mostly about a boy, Jess, who had a horrible life until he met a kind, cheerful girl, Leslie, who was very imaginative. Her imagination provided all the fantasy my mom and me needed, along with my 7 year old brother. I was completely content with the whole movie until Leslie was killed while trying to cross to Tarabithia. It brought tears into my mom’s eyes along with mine knowing that the loveable character was never going to be back in the story. As I was reading other reviews, I noticed that people were offended because of a conversation the kids had about God. Nothing was wrong with this movie, it just expressed the truth about reality. This is a must see movie!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Corrin, age 11
Positive—If you have been reading the other comments, you will understand that this isn’t a fantasy movie. When I saw the trailer I said, “That is nothing like the book!” Apparently the filmmaker made the trailer look like a fantasy movie and nothing like the book on purpose. Before going to see this movie you must understand that it is about death. “Bridge to Teribithia” will make you feel sad. The book was about death, so I was glad that the movie was as well. I was just upset that they sort of cheated people into going to see the movie by making it look like something it not in the trailer. Another thing is that it gives a false idea of how God judges people. The movie makes it seem as if God will send “good” people to heaven even if they have not asked Jesus into their heart. This movie is good, though, because it stays true to the book, which many people will appreciate. It also is quite a good piece of filmmaking; not exceptional, but better than average. In conclusion, if you understand that this movie is about death and you don’t mind that much, then you should go. It is quite a good movie.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Lundy, age 12
Positive—This movie is a tear jerker! I recommend this movie to children 8+. You can bring children younger, but BRING LOTS OF TISSUES, AND WHEN YOU GET HOME, PREPARE FOR LOTS OF QUESTIONS!! John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave only son. Whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” In this movie, one character is killed accidentally. Thankfully, it’s off screen but still plays an important role in the movie. I would’ve given this a good except for one scene. When Jess, Leslie, and Maybelle are going home from church, Leslie claims that you don’t have to believe in the Bible. Maybelle remarks “Leslie, you have to believe in the Bible or God will d**n you to hell.” Tell your children not to say the word that has stars in it, answer their questions, and your children will forget about it. This is surprising even though this is made by Walden Media who brought us the Chronicles of Narnia, the magic and special effects play a minor role in the movie. The theme in this movie is real life situations for kids 8+. As said, you can bring children under 8, but BRING LOTS OF TISSUES!!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Kyle Endl, age 11
Neutral—“Bridge to Terabithia” was an okay movie; it ends very sadly. The only thing I had a problem with was the way Christianity was portrayed. Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb) believed that there was no such thing as hell—'I don’t think He bothers with hell,' she says, 'He’s too busy—creating all this!' (and she motions to the beautiful scenery around her) What this movie’s makers didn’t understand is that God is perfect. His perfection is in part made up by His perfect Justice, and because He is perfectly just, He must punish those who do not trust in Him. “Bridge to Terabithia” is not bad, per se, but I would not really reccomend it to anyone.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Trisha, age 16
Positive—This movie was AMAZING! I thought it would be a sort of dumb movie because of what I saw in the preveiws. I was wrong! My best friend and I went to see it in theatres and, I wont spoil it for those of you that don’t know, we cried so hard. There is a very sad part and many of the adults in the theatre were crying as well! I liked it a lot and I liked the fact that the boys family went to church and everything. I just didnt like how the dad kept cussing. Overall, an AWESOME movie! Maybe not for littler kids but it is DEFINITELY a good family film!…
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Emily, age 12
Positive—This was a very good movie! There were only one or two bad words in the whole movie. There was one scene that I found slightly disturbing, where some children are discussing whether there is a hell or not. One child comments that she doesn’t think that a good God would send anyone to hell and that 'He’s too busy running all this!' gesturing to the world around them. Especially seeing what happens after this conversation, this was very sad and upsetting to me. One note to parents: if you’re children are very sensitive, you may want to view this movie beforehand. There is a very tragic twist late in the movie that may upset some children. Even parents may want to have some tissues on hand! Overall, a very clean family movie!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Shelby Purvis, age 16
Negative—I saw this movie with my family and we didn’t like it at all. It had a very tragic ending because one of the main characters (AnnaSophia Robb) dies. The animation was good, and the acting, too. Some of the stuff was ok. But it seemed to be riding on the theme of “The Chonicles of Narnia.” It also had some bad words and misuses of God’s name. The main point of the story was to 'Keep your mind wide open.'Did they mean wide-open to evil things?!? Jessy’s father is portrayed as the “Dark Master” of Terabithia. Do you really want your kids to think that way? If so, see this movie. But as Christians you should probably think twice before watching this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Becky Rinard, age 13