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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20.43%
Average: 19.35%
Pretty Bad: 11.83%
Total Crap: 17.2%

7 reviews, 51 user ratings

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Bridge to Terabithia
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by EricDSnider

"Yes, I cried. Like a big, fat, sobbing baby. Shut up."
4 stars

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I wept like a baby at the end of "Bridge to Terabithia." If a movie's quality were judged solely on the basis of how many tears it elicited, I'd have to give this one an A+.

Thank goodness there are other factors to consider. Based on the beloved 1977 young adult novel by Katherine Paterson, the film is sometimes as gawky and awkward as its adolescent characters, occasionally a little ungraceful in the way it handles itself. Yet like so many films of its genre, it redeems itself by being good-natured and sincere, and by touching the viewer's heart without manhandling it.

It's set in an anonymous rural town in an unnamed state, and it depicts children of an uncertain age. (They're fifth-graders in the book, but they seem more mature than that here.) Jesse (Josh Hutcherson) is the middle of five children in a poor family, and the only boy. His dad (Robert Patrick) works at a hardware store; Mom (Kate Butler) is a homemaker. With his hand-me-down shoes and his family's financial situation, Jesse is often the target of bullies at school, where he has a secret schoolboy crush on the pretty music teacher (Zooey Deschanel) who visits the class weekly.

Then he becomes friends with a new girl, Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb), whose family has moved in next door. She's a bit of an outcast, too, being the new kid in school, and her vivid imagination makes her seem like a loony. Soon Leslie and Jesse are traipsing through the woods near their homes, spending their afternoons imagining magical kingdoms and living in their harmless fantasies.

Their relationship is platonic and without any major hurdles. The conflicts are elsewhere: They're both frequently harassed by bullies, including a troll-like girl named Janice (Lauren Clinton), and Jesse, a budding artist, can't relate to his no-nonsense father. Widening that gap is the way Dad dotes on Jesse's pesky little sister, May Belle (Bailee Madison). Why can't he be that close to Jesse?

Around the halfway mark, the film suddenly shoehorns some Christianity into the story, with the revelation that Jesse's family are regular churchgoers (first we've heard of it), and with Leslie accompanying them one Sunday. This leads to a post-church conversation between Leslie, Jesse, and May Belle about heaven and hell and who's going where.

How is all this relevant? It isn't, really. A tragic event later in the film causes two characters to talk about heaven and hell again, but it still feels like it was wedged forcibly into the story. Same with Leslie's kooky home life, where she's the only child of two free-spirited novelists who won't let her watch TV: Why?

And then there's that tragic event I mentioned. It might be TOO tragic for a film aimed at such young audiences, but the movie (directed by animator Gabor Csupo in his first live-action feature) handles it realistically and with great tenderness. Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb give winning performances as Jesse and Leslie, too, which makes the sadness more palatable.

Not that it's a sad movie, really; it's a poignant, hopeful movie with a couple sad turns. Kids above the age of about 10 can probably appreciate its mature themes of love and family, and I can attest to the film's effectiveness on certain adults, too.

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originally posted: 02/20/07 19:54:51
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User Comments

8/15/10 bored mom Unneeded film adaptation. There are better escapes to fantasy, in real books and videogames 3 stars
10/12/09 80s Angel a simply wonderful movie. 4 stars
3/19/09 Anonymous. the book is good & this is good too. :] 4 stars
1/25/09 Fan Its based on a true story MEL you idiot! 5 stars
7/08/08 mist David Cornelius gets everything right about whats wrong with this movie, its bad 1 stars
6/18/08 tiger too many children 1 stars
5/09/08 molly x an amazing film that made me cry 5 stars
5/03/08 Karrie Millheim I did not like this movie, I thought it was going to be so much different than it was 2 stars
4/21/08 Isabel I was told this compared with "Pan's Labyrinth". Not even close in interest and complexity 2 stars
4/10/08 Brandy Loved the book as a child. Thought this was pretty good. 4 stars
2/16/08 daveyt poo 1 stars
2/13/08 Katherine W. Apparently someone didn’t read the book. 4 stars
2/07/08 ROANN POT 5 stars
1/22/08 Al Toons Good Flick, Figures she disses God, another atheist, Roe topic against the "empire" of God 1 stars
1/13/08 jenny David Cornelius is a big fool.jus fire him from his job.awesome movie for everyone 5 stars
1/11/08 Jason Good movie but marketed improperly. Not for young kids, maybe for 8-13 3 stars
1/03/08 Justin P I cried like a little baby. It was really good. 5 stars
12/09/07 Melanie Loved it. It opens your eyes up to how those less fortunate kids live. Really sad 5 stars
11/02/07 mike dirty marketing. this is no narnia. its just a tragedy. im pissed off 1 stars
9/13/07 Slicer Fifteen minutes into it, I walked out. This movie ROYALLY SUCKS on a fundamental level. 1 stars
8/25/07 Jeff A fine movie, mature and engaging. The reviewer will think more of it when older, I'd bet. 5 stars
8/14/07 armin good movie..reay sad but become happy at the end, al otgether good movie 5 stars
8/12/07 deedee David Cornelius, there must be a black hole where your heart should be! A beautiful film. 5 stars
8/02/07 Greg B This belongs in a 4th grade school room period. Waste of 3D effects. Waste of time. 1 stars
7/18/07 Jordan Boone The movie has plenty of heart and creativy and shows that David Cornelius is an idiot. 5 stars
7/07/07 Tracey Chambers good movie for older kids. younger kids may get to upset. 3 stars
7/07/07 Wildbluesun That rare thing - a children's film with a brain. 5 stars
6/25/07 khailan I luv this movie because i was in bridge to teribathia and i got to meet josh and annasophi 5 stars
6/24/07 action movie fan okay kids movie-nothing like lord of the rings though 3 stars
6/15/07 William Goss Misguided direction highlights fantasy, hinders admirably mature moments. 3 stars
6/09/07 Stephanie Throckmorton Right, EricD, doesn't "manhandle" viewer's heart, unlike the book, which DOES! 3 stars
6/09/07 Lynne O'Leahy-Cassid More palatable than the book; yet lovers of the book probably wouldn't like it. 3 stars
5/24/07 leon richardson it's great until AnnaSophia Robb died then it goes down hill from there 3 stars
5/23/07 Jessica Childress If it is really out to spread "right-wing Christian values" I should like it much better! 3 stars
5/15/07 vicky fabulous multi-dimensional meanings to this film-for adults not kids 5 stars
4/25/07 Tiffany Losco sad, I took my 4 yearold. She kept asking me why? why? 4 stars
4/15/07 pat Ouch! I went out for a sweet fantasy film and came home angry because I ruined my eye makeu 2 stars
4/12/07 rimrhino This was a great flick; I cried, and I'm one of those "manly men" Todd mentioned! 5 stars
3/26/07 gary i go to a disney movie to escape.. this film made me want to escape the theatre 3 stars
3/22/07 ES Wow, powerful moments and some real life lessons 4 stars
3/14/07 Cire Alleraccav This movie will make any kid with a heart cry -- and think -- for all the right reasons! 5 stars
3/12/07 Kevin unremarable 5 stars
3/09/07 Martin Visaully, it's well made, but that's all it has, the rest is just sh@t 1 stars
3/06/07 Robin Hudspeth The trailer posed this as a kid's movie with magical animation. Not! A tragedy - Ol Yeller! 3 stars
3/05/07 --- Previews very misleading-if you're looking for Narnia type film you'll be disappointed 1 stars
3/04/07 Justin Imagination? Where? Fun? Where? RIP OFF 2 stars
2/27/07 bob ok,sad 4 stars
2/22/07 paddysixpack unbelievably brilliant 5 stars
2/19/07 Patrick Knapp I took my 9 yr. old son to see it. His first words on hitting the exit..."What a gyp." 2 stars
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