Bridge To Terabithia

Bridge To Terabithia


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Unhappy children escape into private worlds because the real one hurts too much. When you are small you have no power against grown ups. You only have the power of the imagination.

Bridge To Terabithia embraces this thought with the help of Uncle C, Auntie G and Cousin I. It captures the nostalgic feel of a sweet remembered rural America, although is set in the 21st century. Where it works best is rekindling the joy of having a friend with whom to share hopes and dreams, although that sounds as washy as it is wishy, for Jess (Josh Hutcherson) and Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) have a natural connection, uncomplicated by sex.

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Jess has two older and two younger sisters (“I’d trade them off for a good dog”). They live in a farmhouse, although dad (Robert Patrick) can’t make a living on the land and works in a store in town. Money is tight and mom (Kate Butler) feels exhausted by it all. Jess’s relationship with his father is fractious at best, worsened by blatant favoritism towards six-year-old May Belle (Bailee Madison). Even at school Jess is treated as bully meat, except by the music teacher (Zooey Deschanel), whose inclusive personality inspires him.

The arrival of Leslie, a bright, enthusiastic blonde from somewhere decidedly more sophisticated than the back of beyond – her parents are writers, who don’t own a TV because “it kills brain cells” – breaks through Jess’s introspective negativity and together they discover Terabithia, or rather invent it, in a forest beyond the fields behind their homes.

“Close your eyes and keep your mind wide open” is the message to lonely kids out there. You can always find your own Terabithia. Where the film fails, when The Chronicles Of Narnia does not, is in merging the magic kingdom with the real world, possibly because not enough time is spent with the imaginary creatures.

The result is an adventure that appears artificial and never feels in any way exciting. However, Hutcherson and Robb are excellent, with Madison coming in on the outside to steal the Button Cute Trophy for Under Sevens.

Although sweetly sentimental, as well as unflinching with the tougher aspects of growing up, the Bridge leads to fantasy happiness, not lasting lessons on a rite of passage.

Reviewed on: 03 May 2007
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School friends invent a magic kingdom in the woods.
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Director: Gabor Csupo

Writer: Jeff Stockwell, David Paterson, based on the book by Katherine Paterson

Starring: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel, Robert Patrick, Bailee Madison, Kate Butler, Jen Wolfe, Latham Gaines, Cameron Wakefield, Devon Wood, Emma Fenton, Grace Brannigan, Judy McIntosh

Year: 2007

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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