Before I start getting indignant e-mails from all the 10-year-old girls who certainly read this column, I’ll go ahead and point out that I am not the target audience for Elizabeth Allen’s Ramona and Beezus. That being said, this adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s popular Ramona Quimby novels will probably be a bit more palatable to past or present fans of the books. For everyone else, prepare yourself for some of the most butt-numbing family entertainment imaginable.
The movie follows young, rambunctious Ramona Quimby (Joey King, Quarantine) through the trials and tribulations of middle-class life. We get a slew of disparate plot threads, from a budding romance between Ramona’s sister Beezus (Disney Channel star Selena Gomez) and Henry Huggins (Disney Channel actor Hutch Dano), to a rekindled love between her Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin, He’s Just Not That Into You) and the unfortunately named Hobart (Josh Duhamel, When in Rome). Most of the film, however, revolves around Ramona’s father (John Corbett, Street Kings) losing his job and the various degrees of alienation Ramona encounters as a kid growing up.
Now, assuming you’re Ramona’s age and are going through similar circumstances, then all this works better because it’s relatable. However, unlike this year’s other preteen centric flick, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which was actually fun, everyone else should be prepared to wade knee-deep through some pretty hefty pre-teen minutiae. It’s not just that what’s on-screen isn’t engaging, but also that there’s so much of it. At 104 minutes of unfocused, scattershot plotting, subplots that go nowhere and wonky pacing that grinds the film to a halt, Ramona and Beezus feels more like Chinese water torture than a movie.
Ultimately, Ramona and Beezus is simply deathly dull, and in a lot of ways, this might be its worst offense. Rated G.