Movies: Ramona and Beezus * *
(G, General release)
Warm, likeable and entirely unoriginal, Ramona and Beezus is based on a seemingly interminable series of American children's books by Beverly Cleary. Ramona and Beezus (short for Beatrice) are contemporary suburban sisters: Beezus (Selena Gomez) is a pretty, bright and self-aware teen, but Ramona (Joey King) is a dreamy nine-year-old who seems to be a magnet for chaos.
Her fertile imagination is always getting the better of her, and she's forever landing herself in trouble at school. This scatterbrained behaviour is, on the whole, considered endearing by her parents (John Corbett and Bridget Moynahan), but when her indulgent dad loses his job, things get a bit more tense at home.
Nothing especially bad happens in Ramona and Beezus: in fact nothing much happens at all. People have water fights and cars get covered in many shades of paint and Ramona winds up in all manner of scrapes. Sometimes this is amusing, at other times the film feels like an out-take from one of those Nickelodeon half-hour dramas. It's endearing enough though, if a little long, and King is a terrific and photogenic little child actress who brings real life and believeability to what could have been an unbearably cute role.