I love Beverly Cleary's Ramona books more than I can properly express, and I was both excited and worried about the new movie adaptation, mostly thanks to Selena Gomez, who I enjoy quite a lot as an actress, but who is pretty much the last person I'd cast as sensible, awkward, somewhat-dowdy Beezus. Still, I went, because according to the trailer they were going for a Beezus/Henry Huggins romance, and I have been gunning for those two to get married since I was about six.
And, well. Ramona and Beezus does not fit my mental image of the books at all, really. But it is a cute, bright, funny movie about an extremely likeable little girl, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Sure, the movie's a little overfull, since they tried to cram in plot elements from most of the eight Ramona books. And the special effects-laden fantasies of Ramona's imagination running away with her don't really work. And Henry (who is, in general, kind of blah) does not appear to have his famous dog, Ribsy, which is a travesty beyond expression.
But, on the plus side:
- Joey King is adorable as Ramona, who is spunky and creative and lovable, and holds up the theme of being true to yourself very well.
- Her relationship with her father - she was always a daddy's girl in the books - is beautifully done, and John Corbett does a great job in general at playing Ramona's stressed but loving father. Like, I want him to be my dad. So great.
- The romance between Ramona's Aunt Beatrice (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Ramona's best friend's Uncle Hobart (Josh Duhamel) is really sweet and fun. Also, I don't think I'm going to be able to reread the books without having the hots for Uncle Hobart now.
- The cat(s?) playing Picky-Picky is precious.
- It was really funny! Some parts had me laughing kind of embarrassingly loud (best line: Beezus tearfully asks "Who could love a girl named Beezus?" and Ramona timidly offers "...Jesus?").
- Selena Gomez, while not my Beezus, plays an acerbic Type A older sister very well, and is pleasingly aggressive in her romance with Henry.
- ...and all the little moments from the books that made me squeal. Susan's curls! Willa Jean being a brat! There's a moment when their dad brings home gummy bears for the girls in a paper bag, just like in the books, and I kept nudging my poor friend in sheer glee. Books! Books I love, on the screen!
In conclusion, while not my Ramona, this was a good Ramona, and I'm glad there's a fun, cheerful movie out there about girls and family and imagination, and gladder still that it'll probably get more kids reading the books, because those books are darn good.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to pen my four-trillion-word Henry/Beezus fanfic. AND DAMMIT, THERE WILL BE RIBSY.