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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Bridge to Terabithia (review)

Oh my god. Oh my god. Do kids know this story? They must know — this is apparently based on a “beloved” book, which means that kids must know it, right? Oh, devastating, devastating and lovely and bittersweet and entirely wonderful, this enchantingly old-fashioned movie about the power of friendship and imagination and art and learning and expanding one’s horizons. Jess (Josh Hutcherson: RV) is a lonely preteen boy with too many sisters and a dad (Robert Patrick: We Are Marshall) he wishes weren’t so distant, and then his life is transformed by his new neighbor and classmate, Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), who weirdly has no TV and writes fiction for fun and introduces Jess to the marvels of living in your head and playing with the mind’s eye as they invent the fantastical kingdom of Terabithia deep in the woods behind their houses. But don’t misunderstand, fellow adults who don’t know this book at all: this is not a fantasy story but a story about how fantasy transports us, and also a painfully grounded tale of the stripping away of naivete that is adolescence, and how heartbreakingly excruciating an experience that can be.

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

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb

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