- A despondent Beezus: "Who could ever love a girl named Beezus?"
- Ramona, hesitantly: "Jesus?"
In Portland, Oregon dwells Ramona Quimby who is nine years, three months old and, despite her older sister Beezus' assertions, isn't at all a pest or a nuisance (except that she is). Ramona's big imagination lends to plenty of daydreaming and playacting and silly shenanigans, and the rest of the kids in her class think she's daft, her teacher rendered bemused and resigned. Ramona means well, has a big heart, comes from a loving family, but she's like Pollyanna and Walter Mitty and an incoming wrecking ball all rolled into one.
The story's conflict surfaces when Ramona and Beezus' dad gets laid off and suddenly, for the Quimbys, there's penny pinching and the hovering threat of losing their house. Things like this will sometimes have a bigger impact on the children. Ramona not only becomes terrified of losing her home but, after dialogue with a snotty classmate, she also dreads the possibility of her parents divorcing and maybe having to move to Tacoma. Ramona determines to remedy all this. Everyone take cover.
Based on Beverly Cleary's beloved children's books, RAMONA AND BEEZUS and its watchability rest strictly on Joey King's shoulders (Selena Gomez only has a supporting role, really). And to lift one of Ramona's made-up words, Joey King's presence makes this movie all the "funner." It's a fine line to toe, I think. Ramona gets into so many scrapes that inconvenience so many people that it would've been disastrous if the filmmakers had tapped the wrong girl to play her. It would've been all too easy for the audience to perceive Ramona as annoying and even unsympathetic. But Joey King is awesome and so very likable, and she works the crowd with that infectious giggle and that marvelously expressive face and a certain irrepressibility. How could you not forgive her her well-intentioned screw-ups?
The rest of the cast is really good, especially John Corbett who plays Ramona's understanding, nurturing father. Ramona's interactions with her father and with her sister Beatrice (forever known as "Beezus") prove the backbone of the story. I enjoyed watching the sisters' relationship unfold. Ramona, always in trouble about something, fears that she'll never do as well as Beezus who always garners straight A's and is well liked by everyone. And so maybe the turning point for Ramona is when she gets those words of encouragement from Beezus at the end of that one sad evening.
Oh, and somehow Ramona does manage to save the day. Go figure.
Watch RAMONA AND BEEZUS and, chances are, you'll be enchanted by the wonderful Joey King. There's a comfort and a warmth in watching this movie, and you may even get caught up with the side stories, whether it's Ramona's beloved cute Aunt Bea re-sparking an old romance or Beezus kind of striking up a first one. If you want to meet an extraordinary girl bubbling over with life and imagination and who, in prepping for a princess audition, ends up in the bushes and concocts a makeshift tiara out of burrs, well, that's Ramona Quimby all over. Grown-ups will smile throughout this film. Kids will adore it. Fair warning, though, that your young 'uns may pick up Ramona's favorite curse word. Heck, I may even adopt it. There's something pretty visceral about screaming "Ah, guts!" to the heavens. I'm right, yeah?
The DVD's bonus stuff: "Show & Tell Film School" is seven minutes of director Elizabeth Allen giving tips on how to make a movie and we see how she herself applied these tips to her shooting of RAMONA & BEEZUS; 4 Deleted Scenes (totaling 00:04:11 minutes); a gag reel (00:02:50); "My Ramona" features an interview with author Beverly Cleary (00:04:14); and the theatrical trailer.