In an effort to encourage my niece and nephew to read over the summer, I told them if they’d complete the summer reading program at the library, I’d take them to see a movie. And in an effort to encourage the reading, I said it’d be one based on a book so maybe they could read the book and see how it was different from the movie.
I picked the upcoming “Ramona and Beezus” movie for a couple of reasons. One was that it looked like a movie I would enjoy seeing with them and another was that the Ramona books were some of my favorites growing up.
But between end of the summer activities and back to school, we missed seeing it in theaters. So, I decided to go one better. I bought the movie on Blu-Ray for them and went over to their house with popcorn and candy to watch it.
So, was it worth the wait?
I don’t just mean the wait from theatrical release to getting around to seeing it. I mean from the time I was growing up until now.
Yes and no.
The movie isn’t a strict adaptation of any single Ramona novel, but instead borrows bits and pieces from the series run. The film firmly centers on Ramona and Beezus, though the grown-up roles each get a moment to shine and have lured in some big-name actors. The storyline of Aunt Bea and Hobart is fairly predictable (it ends in a wedding) but it’s fun. The story of Ramona’s father losing his job and then becoming art teacher at the school is one I seem to recall from the books…I believe it was “Ramona and Her Father,” but I can’t be sure.
Where the movie works best is the segments when Ramona gets to use her imagination and the movie shows us this on-screen. These are moments that capture the spirit of the books (at least as I recall it) and the ones I really enjoyed. I wish there had been more of them.
The movie tries to be everything to all audiences, covering a lot of bases. Beazus works fairly well, though the subplot of her having a crush on Henry isn’t the most solid part of the movie.
It wasn’t a perfect Ramona movie, but then again the movie did have thirty plus years of enjoyment, memories and expectations to live up to. And the fact I enjoyed most of it speaks well.