Friday, February 16, 2007

Eating Words

I'll be the first to eat my words about Bridge to Terabithia. I caught the first screening of the day (9:50am) with an audience of about 5 middle aged men.

My overall impression, I liked it. It was a good movie. Not a great one, but a pretty good one. The filmmakers stayed fairly true to the book and were able to capture so many wonderful moments and characters for the screen. I'll be honest, my expectations were low. But then again, how many classics has Hollywood mangled?

From Janice Avery, the bully who trips Jesse on the bus to little Maybelle and her Barbie Dolls. Characters that I'd only imagined in my head for all these years came alive on screen. And I loved them.

The fantastical elements are far less than the previews imply, but they're there and they shouldn't be. For me that's one of two reasons I wouldn't consider it great. It was distracting. The other was the ending. The way Jesse internalized his grief in the book put my stomach into knots and my heart reeling. You felt so much for this kid in his confusion over his friend's death. The movie couldn't capture it.

What triumphs in this film is the friendship between Jesse and Leslie. Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb did a fine, fine job. As did all of the kids. The sincerity behind the book translated beautifully. I felt the entire cast and crews' hearts on that screen. I felt like they were all great fans of Katherine Paterson's story.

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