Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
USA, 2007. Walden Media, Hal Lieberman Company, Lauren Levine Productions Inc.. Screenplay by Jeff Stockwell, David Paterson, based on the book by Katherine Paterson. Cinematography by Michael Chapman. Produced by Lauren Levine, Hal Lieberman, David Paterson. Music by Aaron Zigman. Production Design by Robert Gillies. Costume Design by Barbara Darragh. Film Editing by John Gilbert.
Sweet rendering of Katherine Paterson’s popular children’s book, about a bullied ten year-old boy (Josh Hutcherson) who finds refuge in his friendship with the new girl (AnnaSophia Robb) in his class. The two of them escape their harsh treatment at school by making a fantasy world for themselves in an expanse of land behind their homes, which they name Terabithia and populate with all manner of magical creatures.
Sadly, the realities of life are never far beyond their dreams, but the emphasis here is on the power of friendship to overcome the obstacles that they are presented with. It’s not as much a fantasy movie as you would be led to believe by its promotional material, and it does move towards an unexpected conclusion (for those not familiar with the book), but the characters are highly appealing and never beg for our sympathy or understanding.
There are a few clunky moments (including a badly scored family fun montage in the middle that is graceless), but overall it’s a heartwarming charmer that is moved along by appealing performances and an overall friendly tone.
Zooey Deschanel has a wonderful supporting performance as the hot music teacher who moves Hutcherson towards puberty in record time.