Release Date: February 16th, 2007 by Walt Disney Pictures.
The Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Annasophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel, Robert Patrick, Bailey Madison, Kate Butler, Devon Wood, Emma Fenton, Grace Brannigan, Latham Gaines, Judy McIntosh, Patricia Aldersley, Lauren Clinton, Isabelle Rose Kircher.
Directed by Gabor Csupo.
BASIC PREMISE: Jess (Hutcherson) befriends Leslie (Robb) from his middle school class and discovers a magical kingdom with her in the forest. Based on the book by Katherine Paterson. ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The poster for Bridge to Terabithia makes it seem like it will be a fantasy adventure loaded with special effects. However, it turns out to be more of a simple, somewhat absorbing drama with only a few fantasy sequences. Jess, a middle school kid, gets picked on by bullies at school and on the bus. When Leslie comes to his aid during a fight, they start becoming friends. She brings him into the forest and shows him an imaginary magical kingdom where she is queen and he is the king. His parents (Fenton and Patrick) don’t give him enough at attention at home, so, naturally, he continues to hang out with Leslie and explore the magical forest with her. Both Josh Hutcherson and Annasophia Robb have enough chemistry together as Jess and Leslie, respectively, to seem like they’re truly best friends. The underrated Zooey Deschanel plays their teacher who tries to enliven their day by playing the guitar and singing songs. In a rather contrived scene, she picks up Jess to go on a field trip to a museum alone with her without direct approval from his parents. Director Gabor Csupo tries to find the right balance between fantasy and reality to make the film engaging, but the fantasy sequences are rather distracting and don't feel particularly awe-inspiring or memorable.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: When the plot turns more serious with a dramatic twist, it becomes quite poignant and heartfelt. Jess comes of age through his special friendship with Leslie. He will always remember his experiences with her and how she taught him to open and free his mind through the power of imagination.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Occasionally contrived.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
IN A NUTSHELL: Surprisingly absorbing and poignant, but occasionally contrived.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater
The "B" Menu