I saw The Bridge to Tarabithia tonight and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I had thought that it would be a kiddie movie without much plot and went mainly because it was somewhere to go and time together with family. I found that I really enjoyed the movie although there were some things I didn’t like and some nitpicks.
The plot was well done and from what I’ve heard of the book (I didn’t read it) it followed the story line extremely closely. This helped them avoid the fundamental mistake that moviemakers make. They try to contemporize a good book and ruin it in the process. To take an old example, the movie version of And Then There Were None they took out the last two people’s death and made them innocent rather than guilty so that they could have a happy love ending of the movie. This movie didn’t try to undercut its sad ending although they did have a happy postscript (I don’t know whether that was in the book although I believe it was). In addition the movie had a charm to it and properly understood how to use CGI (it should be safe, legal, and rare).
A major problem was the mediocre acting by both the kids and adults. It isn’t easy to get good kid actors especially when you’re making kids movies. Another problem was that the theme of his father preferring his younger sister to him was very overplayed, solely to create an ending with a good contrast. Also they had one strange scene with the kids returning from church which had a really strange theology to it.
Two nitpicks are not singular to this movie, but to media in general. There is a scene where there is a race and then a girl lines up. Even before the boy tells her that she doesn’t belong you know she’s going to win. Once the insult is mentioned you know that the girl is going to win and beat the insulter in degrading circumstances. Really think back through your memory when on a tv show has a girl competed against men or boys and lost. They have a remarkable record. The second nitpick comes after a major character dies. It turns out that the character is not a believer. Then the cute girl asks if the dead character is going to hell. Then she is told that G-d (given that its from a christian perspectice I’m not sure how to capatilize) wouldn’t let the dead charachter go to hell. Really this annoys me. If you are professing to show Christian values and have your characters show that theology be consistent. If you think unbelievers are damnsed then it doesn’t matter how good a person they were it matters that they didn’t believe.