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Movie Review

Ramona and Beezus

Reviewed by: Scott Brennan

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family Teens Adults
Family Comedy Kids Adventure Adaptation
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 23, 2010 (wide—2,700+ theaters)
DVD: November 9, 2010
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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Featuring: Joey King (Ramona Quimby), Selena Gomez (Beezus), John Corbett (Bob Quimby), Bridget Moynahan (Dorothy Quimby), Ginnifer Goodwin (Aunt Bea), Josh Duhamel (Uncle Hobart), Sandra Oh (Mrs. Meacham), more »
Director: Elizabeth Allen
Producer: Fox 2000 Pictures, Walden Media, DiNovi Pictures, Denise Di Novi, Alison Greenspan, Brad Van Arragon
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“A little sister goes a long way.”

It’s official. Ramona and Beezus is a “hit” film for families! There is a line in the movie where Ramona’s teacher, Mrs. Meacham (Sandra Oh) says, “Ramona, you are extraordinary.” Well, that sentiment is the perfect description for this mid-summer sleeper. “Ramona and Beezus” is an extraordinarily positive family movie, one that everyone in the house can enjoy. I wouldn’t dream of waiting to see it when it comes to cable or DVD. Instead, this should be immediately calendared as the required family summer outing of 2010. You won’t be disappointed, that is for certain. Elizabeth Allen’s direction is excellent and to be applauded.

For those of you who may not be “in the know,” “Ramona and Beezus” is based on a series of children’s books written by world famous, Newberry Honor, and multiple-award-winning author, Beverly Cleary (a living legend), who has won her way into the hearts of millions of children and young teens since the late 1950’s. Her first book in the Ramona sequence, Beezus and Ramona was written in 1955 and focused more on Ramona’s older sister Beatrice (“Beezus” was how it came out when her younger sister Ramona pronounced her name as a young 4 year old), and having to deal with her accident-prone, exasperating little sister. The movie reversed the title since this story settled in on Ramona more than Beezus. In the movie storyline, Ramona is now 9 years and 3 months old, bugging her 15 year old sister, Beezus, on a daily basis and watching her every move which adds great fun to the film, particularly when little Roberta Quimby, the youngest of the 3 sisters, gives Ramona a taste of her own medicine.

The film really doesn’t follow that first book in the series but is rather a compelling screenplay (written by Laurie Craig and Nick Pustay) which combines different parts of storylines and characters from several of Cleary’s books and creates a wonderful story all on its own. The setting has a timeless feeling to it which seems current but could be in any neighborhood or family from the 1950‘s until today. I don’t remember a single cell phone in the film or even a current automobile. The great thing is that it does all this while staying mostly true to the Beverly Cleary characters. [As a reader of almost all the books in the series, I can attest to the writers attempt at character authenticity.] It’s been reported that many a producer and writer longed to bring these stories to the big screen, but Beverly held out until now. “Hats off” to the producers, Denise Di Novi and Alison Greenspan, and congratulations are in order to Elizabeth Gabler at Fox 2000 for helping secure the rights to the film from the Cleary clan. The rumor is that Beverly Cleary is satisfied with the results, but what she probably would be more pleased with is if the success of the film inspired another entire generation of children to read her books. Kids may have to put down the Wii and the Playstation games for a while, but it will be worth it.

The Cast

Joey King, who plays Ramona Quimby, is a “revelation” on the big screen. She is not new to film or television but is sure to be a movie star—along with Selena Gomez who is already a rising star—in the very near future. She is delightful to watch and truly captures the hearts of the audience, typifying the antics of an overly imaginative child who is full of zest for life but whose actions often lead to accidents. Everyone can relate. We’ve all had our blunders and mistakes which is why Ramona is so loved by kids. It was truly a pleasure, as a movie reviewer, to look around in the audience of the theater this past weekend and see young girls and boys laughing with delight next to their smiling parents and even young teen girls shedding a few tears, sometimes out of just plain joy.

Selena Gomez plays a convincing Beezus Quimby and her chemistry with Ramona is completely natural. In fact, besides the superb script, and I can’t say enough positive things about it, the casting director(s) should not go unmentioned(Heike Brandstatter and Coreen Mayrs ). This ensemble cast was almost perfect. There was really some kind of magic created in this movie that I can’t remember experiencing in a very long time. It was kind of like a cross between Mary Poppins, and Little House on the Prairie with a dash of humor thrown in, all of it achieved by a harmonious cast with a terrific musical mix by Mark Mothersbaugh.

Content for concern

Again, this was rated “G” for a reason. Not a single cuss word, unless you count the big bad word that Ramona took a long time to final utter, “Guts,” which was the worst word she could think of. There were a couple of scenes where kissing took place 1) which was appropriate for a couple who was to be engaged and 2) with Ramona’s parents which was great for role models. And there was one teen kiss, 3) that was short and sweet which could be a great talking point for parents and their kids as to how to handle teen dating. Finally, Aunt Bea’s relationship with her old beau Hobart (Josh Duhamel) pushed the envelope in the “modern way” when he asked her to come with him to Alaska (living together) but, thankfully, the script had Bea reject his offer on lack of commitment on his part. (Too bad it wasn’t supported by a biblical or moral conviction.)

Finally, there was a “one-tissue” sniffle scene that had to do with a family pet, and I won’t say more than that, but it may be a good talking point to introduce the life cycle for a 5 or 6 year old in case the tears start to flow.

Other than a possible objection to the politically correct placement of the female minister in a wedding scene, there really isn’t a hint of anything, not even inferred. The only thing that could have made it better would have been the mention of God or prayer or church as part of the family dynamic. Here was a great story about a family in financial trouble, due to dad losing his job, (timely for today’s tough recessionary environment), and the emphasis is solely on the love of one another and family that is supposed to pull them all through this difficult time. It worked, but the lost potential was a little saddening. However, that being said, it’s clear that, this too, could be an additional family talking point after the film, and I don’t want this comment to detract from the wonderful positive message of strong family love.

Final Comments

The power of love and a strong family bond was prevalent throughout this movie and powerfully portrayed. The church and wedding scene had two stained-glass crosses that were quietly present in the film, a subtle reminder of a “deeper love” set in the back drop of all of our lives. And unless someone corrects me in the comment sections, I thought I heard a most interesting line in the film when Beezus was complaining to Ramona about the nickname she was given, “Besides, who could ever care about someone with the name of Beezus?” and Ramona answers with a question, “Jezus?”

Maybe my love for the film made me hear that, but it’s true nonetheless. Whatever our name is, and however we may have been mistreated or forgotten about, there is someone who will always care about us, someone who sticks closer than a brother or a sister or the best family in the world, and his name is “Jesus.” The gospel message is that He died for you and your sins, is calling you to a life you cannot provide for yourself, and just like Hobart in the movie, is trying to metaphorically “reel you in” so that you can be totally His. Like Ramona’s father (John Corbett) says to her in one scene, “You’re a Quimby for life!” The Father of lights (James 1:17) wants to make us a part of his eternal family, “for life” only, life with Him—lasts forever.

Now that’s a message that needs to be told. All of this came to my mind when I watched “Ramona and Beezus” which has to say a lot about this movie. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with your children. Don’t just drop them off at the theater to see this, but take the time to go in and watch it with them. You’ll be glad you did. This one is a “keeper.”

Violence: None / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

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

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This movie was a delight! I loved reading Beverly Cleary books as a child/young teen. The producers of this movie did a great job. The way the family sticks together and helps each other was clearly seen. Yes, there were moments of hardship and sibling rivalry, but when it comes right down to it, family ties are strong. This movie gets 2 thumbs up in my book—clean, no sex and no cuss words.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Pamela, age 49 (USA)
Positive—Greatly enjoyed spending an afternoon with my group of elementary girls watching a clean movie that we all adored! Great story, lots of laughs, even possibly a tear (or two)…We were hooked. Highly recommend!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Allison, age 31 (USA)
Positive—My wife and I saw this movie and were very pleased that a movie of this type is still being produced. We enjoyed the fact that this movie was “clean” in every aspect. We hope that many fellow Christians see this movie and send the message to Hollywood that these types of movies are still in demand.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Doug, age 47 (USA)
Positive—Delightful movie that is more than family-friendly. It is a warmhearted celebration of family. Everything, from casting to lighting, script to music come together to create a warm, loving feel that pulls you right into the Quimby family. I loved that this movie celebrated the ordinaries of family life, including the stresses and bickering, as well as playing together and supporting each other.

Dad has two great lines that exemplify this. One comes as his worried daughters watch him prepare to sleep on the couch after a quarrel with Mom, “Don’t worry. This is just a nighttime time out. We’ll still be happily married in the morning.” And, when Ramona decided the family was better off without her, “You’re a Quimby for life!”

Two considerations for very young or sensitive children: Ramona seemed to attract accidents, many of which were not her fault in any way. Even still, she was scolded and in trouble from the beginning of the movie to the end. This really bothered one of my kids who has a strong sense of justice. It made these adults seem unfair.

Also, Beezus said some really mean things to Ramona occasionally. But if your kids are old enough, talk afterward about how we all sin against one another, even parents, sibs and teachers, especially when we’re stressed. Tell them we need their forgiveness, too. I wish that there had been apologizing in the film. It would have highlighted the forgiveness, which instead was implied.

Plan to stop for ice cream afterward and talk about the movie. Some topic suggestions—what the Bible says about family, love, kindness, hearing both sides before speaking; our Lord’s sovereign care and provision in hard times; forgiving 7x70; teen dating; the joy of serving others … Bottom-line: very good acting with great chemistry, a warm-fuzzy look and feel and a script big on heart make a flick that celebrates family life with joy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Wendy, age 45 (USA)
Positive—Good family movie and, though there are topics (like the “tissue” moment) and kissing that could raise questions in children, the movie is over all very safe. The female minister was very nice to see because women can be and are called to be ministers. The Bible says that God will pour out his spirit on all people, men and women, and challenges all of us to go into all the world and preach the gospel, women are not excluded from that.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Connie, age 30 (USA)
Positive—I took my daughter, who is 7, to this alone as a girls night out. I was extremely pleased! So much that I had to call my friends and encourage them to take their own kids. This is a movie that you come out of the film glad you went instead of feeling like you wasted your time. I cannot comment with enough good points and keep it short. So I will talk about the two things in the movie that I think parents should be advised of ahead of time with smaller kids.

I was glad I did not bring along my 5 year old son who has “monster” issues at night.

There is a scene where Beezus tells Ramona to beware of the monsters that are under her bed and eat little girls. While it is all sister teasing, I have issues already with my son and like to not watch things like this with him. The scene of Ramona in bed, scared and alone was intense. Well done with the film but my son would have had trouble with it.

Another point that might have you dealing with discussion is where a school girl tells Ramona that if your dad looses his job, your parents get divorced. Those two points aside—this film as AMAZINGLY good. I am very glad I went and think it is the perfect family film I will own as soon as possible.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Linda, age 30 (USA)
Positive—I LOVED THIS MOVIE!! It has been the cleanest, non-violent, non-swearing movie I ever saw! I watched this movie 4 or 5 times, and I’m still not sick of it, because it’s so funny and refreshing.

I didn’t like it how Ramona was being a stinker by squeezing all the toothpaste and sticking her tongue out several times (because little kids will copy that). I am also glad they chose Selena Gomez and Joey King for Beezus and Ramona, I heard they were going choose Miley and Noah Cyrus for the part—SO glad they didn’t! It seemed weird seeing a woman pastor or some reverend instead of a male pastor. I love the acting in here—Joey King is so adorable and funny, and her acting is great on the first job.

I recommend this movie to everyone, but make sure you tell your kids not to do the naughty things that Ramona did.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Anna, age 18 (USA)
Positive—My wife rented this movie, and she had to talk me into watching it—I am so glad she did! While it’s a kids movie, the acting is excellent, the characters are believable and likable, and the humor is intelligently woven throughout the film. I laughed out loud several times.

What really impressed me was how many issues this movie takes on: sibling rivalry, feeling ugly, kids making fun of you, parents fighting, parents getting upset with you, death, loss of a job, fear of moving, running away—you name it! Each issue is presented in a believable manner, and the family clearly grows closer through each issue, because of their love for one another.

The kids have great role models in their loving (yet realistically flawed) parents, and they model a good balance between their husband-wife relationship and their time with their kids.

The only downside of this movie, from a Christian perspective, is they don’t show any rooting in a Biblical faith for the characters, but I wouldn’t let that stop you from seeing it. This is one I definitely plan on owning.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Dan, age 37 (USA)
Positive—This movie is the cutest, funniest, and sweetest movie I have ever seen—this year or ever! There are no swear words, but talk backs. You’ll love this film!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Emma, age 22 (USA)
Neutral—I took my almost 5 and 7 year old (yes I started very late in life :-) ) to this movie. I enjoyed it even though the plot line was very easy to see, that is not unexpected in a G rated movie. I thought the movie had a very slow middle. I was also concerned when the story dealt with some tough economic issues that hit pretty close to home for us and I am sure to a lot of people who are now struggling financially. Anyway, I did enjoy this movie in all it’s cheesiness. Here is the part I objected to:

***Warning possible spoiler*** (probably not since this part of the ending you could see coming from a mile away) In the final scene there is a marriage and the presiding “minister” is a woman. For a lot of people I am sure that is no big deal but the role for a woman in the Bible does not include being a minister and isn’t that what this site is supposed to be for, reviewing movies through the eye of the Bible?

My children didn’t even say anything about, it but it is one more example of how Hollywood either doesn’t care about “Conservative” Christianity or promoting their version of morality.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Tom, age 50 (USA)
Negative—Ramona and Beezus I found this movie dull and uncomfortable to watch with my kids. Uncomfortable in that I felt the adult relationship scenes and money issues they added were not something I wanted my kids to view. I want movie night with my kids to be fun and not awkward.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—JS, age 34 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—When I was younger I read all eight Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary, and the movie nicely fits all of those wonderful books into one movie. There were a few passionate kissing scenes, but overall I believe “Ramona and Beezus” deserves its G rating.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Emily, age 12 (USA)
Positive—This was a very interesting movie. I went to see it with my mom and we both loved it. This movie deserves a G rating. I liked how it had scenes that were from the books. The acting was great! This movie is great for families with kids of any age!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Brianna, age 13 (USA)
Positive—I thought this movie was very cute! Me, my sister, my dad, and mom had seen this movie. I found nothing offensive with it. We were laughing throughout, and you barely see any movie as family-oriented as this. Selena Gomez and Joey King were very gifted actresses in this film. I think this film is appropiate for all ages. I’m glad they didn’t add anything wrong to this film, as HollyWood does these days. Although there was a few passionate kissing scenes, but in a good way. I thought it was worth seeing, also.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Hannah, age 11 (USA)
Positive—I didn’t think that I would like this film as much as I do now! It’s a fun, clean, entertaining film, that you will have you laughing throughout the movie. My younger sister put it on, and I just watched it and I liked it alot. And the fact that nothing in the movie was offensive made me like it even more! I highly recommend this film to anyone! Even toddlers, because even restless toddlers will enjoy this! Adults,teenagers (yes, I said teenagers) will enjoy this film. Entertainment for the whole family has just found its film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Paulina, age 16