Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ramona and Beezus

So I went to see this new movie Ramona and Beezus.  I've been a diehard Beverly Cleary fan since I was six years old, and I had a pretty bad feeling about it. There's no way a movie could capture the awesomeness of the books' memory for me.  But I had to see.  The pleasant surprise was Joey King as Ramona.  When I saw her picture in the ads I was dismayed and immediately rejected her as a Ramona.  Way too cute and blue-eyed. But she really did a great job; she somehow became pretty much the Ramona I've pictured forever.  Selena Gomez was charming too as an older sister, but movie-Beezus wasn't really Beezus.

 The problem with the movie was the script, which cobbles together plot points and seemingly randomly selected hee-larious scenes from all the books into an aimless mess.  The thing is, what Cleary did better than most children's writers is remember and  accurately capture the actual, unsentimentalized way it feels to be a kid going through everyday situations.  It's all in the subtle details, not in the wacky antics.  Not so with the movie.  Five years of the most dramatic Quimby dramas and the most amusing visual gags get condensed into a few months of movie time, so there's no room to just be a kid.  (Also, the books of course cover several years—years when kids grow up a lot.  So when 9-year-old movie-Ramona yells "guts!" when she's frustrated, making everyone laugh at her because, you know, guts isn't really a bad word, it's just weird.  It worked a lot better when Ramona the Pest did it as a kindergartener.)  To be fair, the kids in the audience were howling with laughter at several points, so there's that.

So.  Ok, it was sweet and charming and the occasional tension/mostly love in the family was obvious and as it should be.  I'd happily take an eight-year-old to it, and they'd love it.  But still.  Not that anyone wants my opinion, but I think the Ramona books deserve the full Harry Potter treatment.  A big-budget movie for each book in the series, with all the details meticulously recreated exactly as I grew up picturing them in my head.  I mean, in the movie they were about to go to "Macaroni Joe's" for a special family dinner out, for f***'s sake!  What happened to the Whopper Burger?!  These details matter!  Gah!
p.s. I'm not even going to talk about the Beezus/Henry romance.  Can. Not. Deal.