Ahhh! So, after spending the last few weeks running around like a maniac trying to organize them, we finally had our two little screenings of Ramona and Beezus, the new film adaptation of Beverly Cleary's famous Ramona series. I have to confess up front that I was not a diehard Ramona fan growing up--I'm pretty sure I tried them when I was little and thought the whole slice-of-life concept behind them was b-o-r-i-n-g. (Um, I was obsessed with reading the Young Jedi Knights series and once told my mother [and she still makes fun of me for this, by the way] that I thought the world would be a lot more interesting if there actually were superheroes and villains.) Anyway, needless to say, I really didn't appreciate the Ramona books until I was much older and was reading down for nostalgia's sake. I thought this was why I loved the movie so much--that I wasn't disappointed by what they did or didn't leave out, or by the way they interpreted things--but all of the Ramona diehards absolutely loved it, including my boss. :)
First, I should start by explaining why I think they aged the characters up so much (Ramona starts off as 4 in the books, I believe, and Beezus is maybe 10--in the movie Ramona is about 9 and Beezus is in high school): they combined all of the books. Or the best parts of all the books, if that makes any sense? I got the sense there was room for a sequel if this movie does well, but it's so nicely self-contained that I don't think it's necessary at all.
If you're looking for a literal page-to-screen adaptation, I don't think you're going to find it here. You can tell that the director (Elizabeth Allen) really loved the material, because she managed to distill all of these stories to find the essence of Ramona and her family. I remember all of the ladies on Jezebel were complaining about that one line Selena Gomez has in the trailer ("Every princess needs a little sparkle!") but that scene is approximately 2 minutes long. If nothing else, they stayed VERY true to who Ramona is and Joey King, the little girl playing her, is PERFECT! Oh my goodness, you just want to hug her and start jumping around in rainboots with her! That girl is going places.
Anyway, since the director was there, she spoke for a few minutes about the movie before we got to watch it. (She mentioned that the producer had been working to get this project to the screen for almost seven years!) The backbone of the story, in her words, is the relationship that Ramona has with her father, which was easily one of my favorite things about the book and probably explains why I liked the move as much as I did. (But fear not, Ramona's mom definitely steals a few scenes at the end.) The plot of the movie is focused on her father losing his job, and the resulting fallout of that, both emotionally and financially.
And--for the record--Selena Gomez was great, too. I know everyone has misgivings about her in Beezus' role, but I think she nailed it. Both my boss and I were surprised by how much we ended up liking her, and what great chemistry she and Joey had.
Anyway, I won't ramble. I just wanted to let you all know that it is FUNNY and so charming, but still hits all the right emotional notes, both with Ramona herself and the adults in her life. I cried! Twice! And so did everyone else in the theater! (Except maybe not the reviewer from SLJ, but I did catch him grinning.)
Anyway, I'm way, way, WAY late on announcing the winners of the Egmont release week contests! They are as follows:
The Dark Divine: Arya Rise of Renegade X: Cindy S, who wants to protect Chicago :) The Cinderella Society: Rosie, who picked Sabrina as an model of girl power Scones and Sensibility: Suze W., who picked Col. Christopher Brandon (a wise, delicious choice!)
Go ahead and email me at bwinterviews(at)gmail.com with your address and I'll pass them onto the Egmont ladies. :)