Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on November 27th, 2010
As one could expect, I read a lot of books when I was a kid. I stuck with the classics from Ronald Dahl, Tolkien, and even Charles Dickens . But among all of the male authors in this boy’s life, I also read a few female ones too. One stands out in particular, Beverly Cleary. From Henry Huggins to Runaway Ralph and the beloved Dear Mr. Henshaw , I clearly enjoyed her work. But I must confess, I even read the beloved Ramona books, so naturally I was delighted to see Ramona and Beezus on my doorstep.
Ramona Quimby (played by Joey King) is 8 and three quarters and attends the third grade. She would be a normal student if it weren’t for one thing: her overactive imagination. It gets her into trouble more often than not and leaves her at the mercy of her third grade class. Apparently, it also leads to less than desirable grades and a report card that she has to hide when she gets home.
Her sister, Beezus (played by Selena Gomez) is the perfect opposite. She is popular, well liked by her peers and gets good grades. So after Beezus shows off her report card to her mom and dad (played by Bridget Moynahan and John Corbett), they naturally ask for Ramona’s. It appears that her grades aren’t so good because she likes to make up words like “terrificial” and “funner” (which are perfectly good words by the way).
Dad, Robert crunches numbers for a living and has decided on an addition to the house. This leaves a giant hole in the house until construction is finished. In addition, it lets Ramona and her friend, Howie Kemp’s (played by Jason Spevack) imaginations go wild. However, this happy festive mood soon turns sour when we learn that Mr. Quimby has lost his job due to layoffs.
As a result mom, Dorothy has to get part time work while Robert looks for a new job and tends to the kids at home which include little Roberta (played by Aila and Zanti McCubbing). Meanwhile, Ramona’s Aunt Bea (played by Ginnifer Goodwin) has come into contact with her old high school boyfriend, Hobart (played by Josh Duhamel) who just so happens to be Howie’s uncle.
Ramona is in despair. Her family are at odds and her imagination isn’t appreciated by her family like it once was. But Ramona can be extraordinary. She decides to help her family get some money by making it herself. She opens a lemonade stand and washes cars in an attempt to help the Quimby residence. However, her attempts at financial gain aren’t really helping the family at all. Can her dad get a job and will Ramona ever get out of the third grade?
As a child, I grew up with a very overactive imagination. In many ways, I still have that same imagination which has lead me to many interesting places in my life. So, it was nice to see a movie where the child (albeit female) was somebody I could relate to. Joey King does a great job of playing a character that those in the creative world could closely associate themselves with. It also helped that she had a fantastic supporting cast.
Among the supporting cast standouts, one has to recognize John Corbett and Josh Duhamel despite the film’s feminine premise. Each of them brought a lot of laughter to their role and did more than just a gender representation. The message in the movie is also fantastic, one that rewards creativity and one that highlights those who are truly extraordinary.
The video is in 2.40:1 widescreen presentation in 1080p resolution. The colors were pretty good here and the picture has some good definition. However, I did feel that some of the lighting, particularly at dusk could have been better situated. But while some of the blu-ray magic gets lost in certain scenes, overall I am happy with the presentation and give it a better than average grade.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-HD track. (It also includes a 5.1 Mix for French). Sound fared better than video here. Dialog is crystal clear and I never found myself adjusting the knob once the movie got going. Surround sound effects are also used as much as possible in this type of film as we can hear even subtle noises like the locking of a car door outside. Even the film’s music fills in nicely with the scene around it instead of outperforming it. Subtitles are included for English SDH and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Digital Copy, Rio, Marley & Me, The Terrible 2′s and Marmaduke.
- Deleted Scenes 6:01 : Eight are included here and we get a couple of more scenes of overactive imagination along with a nice working montage.
- Gag Reel 2:54: A laugh fest dominated by the likes of John Corbett who apparently was the funny man on and off camera.
- Show & Tell Film School 7:01 : Hosted by Director Elizabeth Allen, she goes over the various aspects of movie making in a very kiddish way. It’s cute but don’t expect to gain too much from it.
- My Ramona with Author Beverly Cleary 4:14: A talk with the author who is still kicking at 90+ years old. She talks about a girl in her old neighborhood who inspired the Ramona stories. She also talks about how that character grew from a brief mention in the Henry Huggins book to her own series using various real life experiences of people that she encountered. What an amazing lady.
- A Day in the Life of Joey King 4:59: Pickle Jar (Joey King’s handle on the walkie-talkie) takes us through a typical day in the life on set in lovely Vancouver, BC. They used a real school for shooting and apparently there were hours as well where she had to go to school for real in a nearby trailer.
- Selena & Joey Audition Footage 1:51: Footage from the test runs involving Selena Gomez and Joey King (in dirty blond locks). No wonder they got their roles, they nailed it even at this stage.
- Fox Movie Classics Presents: Life After Film School with Elizabeth Allen 22:02: Hosted by Lauren Slusser, Rachel Day and Michael Feld, these three film students interview the director, Elizabeth Allen. They talk about how Elizabeth’s earlier films including Eyeball Eddie and Aquamarine and how she worked with the author herself, Beverly Cleary. Seems a little out of place, but happy at the inclusion.
- Theatrical Trailer 1:41: The trailer is presented here, not enough imagination in my book.
- Sneak Peek: Tooth Fairy, Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
- Digital Copy: How To 3:35: A way too cheery guy talks about the lovely wonders of a Digital Copy. Could an anvil drop on this guy’s head, that be way more entertaining.
- DVD: Along with Digital Copy, this package also includes the DVD which is good to give to the kids who might use it as a Frisbee.
One thing I forgot to note in my review up until this point was that Beverly Cleary was involved in the movie heavily. Scripts were approved by her and she was clearly a part of the movie making process. It is really a shame that this movie didn’t perform better at the theaters but at least it surpassed its budget if nothing else. Hopefully it finds a wider audience on disc for many years to come.
The film features an outstanding cast highlighted by Joey King and John Corbett who shows us that creativity should always be praised and rewarded. The message in this film is heartwarming and beautiful and we all should be so lucky to have a Ramona Quimby in our lives. Deeply recommended and the best family film I have seen this year. Be terrificial and have a funner time with this movie.