A fifth-grade boy befriends the new girl, and together they imagine a fun and stress-free world called Terabithia.
Big question: Can this screen adaptation achieve the purity of Katherine Paterson's acclaimed young-adult novel?
Catch it: "Bridge to Terabithia" honors the pesky hormones, the inevitable bullies and the sweet and scary reality that comes with being a pre-teen, even if it occasionally steps awkwardly into societal faux pas. Probably not a good idea to compare being abused by a parent to growing up without a TV.
Skip it: If you insist your junior high music teacher was tops. Was he or she as appealing as Ms. Edmonds (Zooey Deschanel)?
Bottom line: There are plenty of strange, out-of-place and out-of-touch moments, like a random religious conversation about Hell and Jesse taking a spontaneous field trip alone with his teacher. (No matter how pure the educator, that sort of thing no longer appears so innocent.) However, there are also nicely delivered scenes of two kids escaping the misery of the school day and immersing themselves in a fantasy world that exists only for them.
Bonus: We can all relate to when the back of the bus was reserved for eighth graders, but can you relate to Ellie's love of playing "super-extreme Barbies"? We smell a reality show!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'Bridge to Terabithia'
Directed by Gabor Csupo; written by Jeff Stockwell and David Paterson, based on the book by Katherine Paterson; photographed by Michael Chapman; edited by John Gilbert; production designed by Rob Gillies; music by Aaron Zigman; produced by Hal Lieberman, Lauren Levine, David Paterson. A Walt Disney Pictures/Walden Media release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:36. MPAA rating: PG (for thematic elements including bullying, some peril and mild language).
Jess Aarons - Josh Hutcherson
Leslie Burke - AnnaSophia Robb
Ms. Edmonds - Zooey Deschanel
Jack Aarons - Robert Patrick
May Belle Aarons - Bailey Madison
Nancy Aarons - Kate Butler
Janice Avery - Lauren Clinton
Brenda Aarons - Devon WoodCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times