Bridge to Terabithia

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
SOME ENCHANTED EVENING Robb, left, and Hutcherson cast the darnedest spells.
SOME ENCHANTED EVENING Robb, left, and Hutcherson cast the darnedest spells.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Few filmmaking ventures are as fraught with peril as an adaptation of a classic children’s book, but happily, Bridge to Terabithia rises to the occasion. Directed by veteran animator Gabor Csupo from a script cowritten by David Paterson (son of Terabithia author Katherine), the movie opens with Jess (Hutcherson), a young loner who takes solace only in running and drawing, forced to wear his sister’s hand-me-down pink sneakers to school, thus ensuring him another day of humiliation by his classmates. His fortune changes when he meets a free-spirited girl named Leslie (Robb), and soon the two are spending afternoons in the forest behind her parents’ house, imagining themselves the rulers of a magical kingdom that Leslie dubs Terabithia.

Like the excellent Pan’s Labyrinth, Terabithia shifts seamlessly between reality and fantasy, and viewers unfamiliar with the source novel might easily miss the subtle intimations of the tragic turn to come. But most remarkably, this is the rare kids’ movie that evokes the feeling of childhood as actually experienced by children—there’s no shortage of wonder and discovery here, but it’s tempered by the everyday grind of bullying schoolkids, unjust punishments and busy parents. Ultimately a story about the risks and rewards of fantasy, Terabithia is as humane a Hollywood film as we’re likely to see all year. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Land

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