Ramona and Beezus
Screenwriting team Laurie Craig and Nick Pustay expertly adapt from Beverly Cleary's children's novels to render a perfectly pitched G-rated family movie. Young newcomer Joey King gives an unquestionable performance as nine-year-old Ramona, the accident-prone middle daughter to a Portland family led by John Corbett and Bridget Moynahan. Didactic without being preachy, the film softly sets down examples of mature behavior around such touchy issues as job loss, anger management, death, and exerting one's individuality. If that sounds like heady stuff for a well-constructed kids' movie, know that there are equal doses of goofy playtime shenanigans that figure ever so gently into the film's organic themes of social interaction. There are plenty of great moments where director Elizabeth Allen skirts stereotypes and smuggles exposition with a sense of dramatic flair. Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Duhamel give credible performances as a star-crossed couple who decide to take a chance on love. "Beezus and Ramona" is easily the best family movie of the year, so far.
Rated G. 104 mins. (B) (Four Stars - out of five/no halves)