Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Directed by Gabor Csupo
Starring: Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb
This movie is the first full-length work by director Gabor Csupo, released in 2007. The movie is based on the book of the same name written by Katherine Paterson. The young cast includes Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games) and AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). The film also features Zooey Deschanel ((500) Days of Summer) and Robert Patrick (Safe House).
Jess (Hutcherson) is struggling to grow up in a home with lots of sisters and very little money. While his father (Patrick) and mother struggle to pay the bills, Jess is forced to fend for himself against the taunts and teasing of the kids at school. His only release is the art he loves to create which helps him to escape from his worries. When he befriends Leslie (Robb), a new girl at school, Josh begins to discover just how far the powers of creation can take you. Now Jess has a new escape from the stress of home, and a new friend who has opened his eyes to the world around him.
Having never read the book, I found this movie to be very powerful. The relationships in the story really make this much more than a children’s movie. In addition to the wonderful friendship between Jess and Leslie, the movie is equally driven by the relationship between Jess and his father. These two stories seem to run simultaneously, working together nicely to add a depth and emotion to the film that I didn’t expect.
The acting in the movie is very good, especially from the young actors at the front of the story. Hutcherson and Robb have a chemistry that feels genuine and innocent. This relationship really drives the whole story. The added strain in the relationship of Jess and his father is also well done. All of the actors in the movie do a great job bringing this story to life.
The movie isn’t without its flaws. Sometimes the film seems to lose a sense of identity, whether it is a fantasy film or a family drama. I don’t think this really hurts the movie. It just made the direction a little fuzzy as the story established itself. I think the real result of this is a movie that blends fantasy with a coming-of-age tale that avoids most of the clichés attached to each.
This is a great movie for the whole family. It has a great theme and is really entertaining. It’s also a bit of a tear-jerker, so be warned. I give this one 4.4 out of 5 stars.