A friend of mine told me that Bridge to Terabithia was one of the saddest films ever. After doing the Top Five Movie Tearjerkers, I figured I needed to watch it. My wife and I both really enjoyed it and then both cried. I give Bridge to Terabithia the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) life is a series of bullies and chores that gets flipped upside when a new neighbor shows up. Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) immediately attracts the attention of the same bullies that torment Jess. The two create an imaginary world they can escape to and form a strong bond.
I thought Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, and Bailee Madison did a really great job in this film. I also loved the character of Jess’s father, played by Robert Patrick, and how he interacts with Jess. He’s a jerk at times, but ultimately he is a caring father. Hutcherson demonstrates various levels of emotion and manages to be really relatable. The relationship with Leslie is the backbone of the film.
The way director Gabor Csupo slowly enters the audience into their imaginary world is fun. I came into this film expecting a Narnia-esque story, but it is far more grounded. The fantasy part of the story is simply a fantasy. It’s a great moment when the kids have had it with the bullies and the struggles of real life and decide to create a world. It takes Jess a little longer to see the world the way Leslie does, but it shows his progression with their relationship. As they go to their magic escape he finally sees the things that Leslie does. It’s a lot of fun and very relatable.
The film does a lot well. It’s a fun family film, but it’s definitely not perfect. It will tug on the heartstrings, but the lesson Jess learns is very positive. Even if he has to learn it in a hard way. I wish my daughter had watched it with us, but I’m convincing her to watch it. It’s one that I definitely recommend for a family movie night.