DIRECTED BY ELIZABETH ALLEN
STARRING: JOEY KING, GINNIFER GOODWIN, JOHN CORBETT, SELENA GOMEZ, BRIDGET MOYNAHAN, JOSH DUHAMEL, JASON SPEVACK AND SANDRA OH
Ramona is the kind of girl you could expect to have her nose pressed against the glass, waiting for you to get back home so she could spring from the staircase, straight on to your shoulder, provided that you father her. She would shine your silver lining bright enough to hide your grays, but she could also be ruthless when it comes to battle – enough to squeeze an entire tube of toothpaste into the sink. And she would resist you as much as her nine-year-old mind could propel her to, but all the same, she could do anything if you could inspire her, even crack an egg on her nicely-curled hair. In short, she’s this budding globule of energy hidden inside a vicious package of killer-cute looks and the firmness of an iguana.
So is Joey King.
That’s what contributed to the success of this story, at least to me. ‘Home Alone’ was only as naughty as Macaulay Culkin could get, as much as the whole of the introversion of ‘Bridge to Terebithia’ rested on Josh Hutcherson’s inability/ability to reflect it. It is almost inevitable that good children’s literature has at its helm not just a representative, but the whole package in itself, in form of the protagonist. A bunch of characters scattered around could dilute the impact, unless each could play a hand like in Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ – and I’m glad that the makers of this film didn’t quite attempt it, for that could mean distorting the levels of empathy, if not trigger a greater diminishment of creativity by means of scattered attention. It is for this reason that it is better to stick to children’s fiction being more or less titular.
I do not stress this point without reason, by the way. One thing that struck me about this film beyond its emotional voodoo (in not exactly a bad sense!) is its shuttle between reality and magical reality, as I shall prefer to call it, for it is viewership through the child’s eye. From garden-hose armies to rainbow-coloured cars and plastic wedding-rings, juxtaposed on a sort of reflection on America’s economic crisis and real-estate booms, the filmmakers look to threaten us with more serious issues if only we were to probe more, the remarkable achievement henceforth being their feat of reducing us to as old as Ramona or Beezus or perhaps Picky-Picky, the pivotal cat (which is still a substantial age, mind you!) – what I mean to say is that the most this film could do to your naughty nine-year-olds at home is inspire hope and make them feel closer to home and comfortably so. But the effect is not the same for the adult viewer, for the film has this uncanny ability to force a regression and feel great about it.
All said and done, this isn’t a film for your kid to grow up with. This is one where you, the adult film-viewer thirsting for an escapade, grow down with and retreat into those cozy (even if embarrassing) corners of pre-teendom where life meant a lot more, with the little sense that it actually made.