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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Ramona and Beezus

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Though ostensibly set in a more-or-less contemporary suburb of Portland, Ore., the gentle, winning comedy "Ramona and Beezus" (Fox) occupies a nostalgia-tinted world so idyllic that you half expect one of the characters to announce, somewhere along the line, that a lovely family called the Cleavers just moved in next door.

Traditional values and close-knit family relationships reign in director Elizabeth Allen's squeaky-clean adaptation of Beverly Cleary's best-selling series of children's books, the first of them published—viewers will hardly be surprised to learn—more than 50 years ago.

So when irrepressible 9-year-old Ramona Quimby (Joey King), on whom the slightly static story centers, warns her parents, Robert (John Corbett) and Dorothy (Bridget Moynahan), at the dinner table that she has to say a terrible swearword to vent her numerous frustrations with life, the term she eventually produces is so mild, it makes Wally and the Beaver's oft-repeated "Gee whiz!" sound blue.

While good-hearted and imaginative, Ramona is also accident-prone and her minor misadventures, which leave her feeling misunderstood, tend to antagonize her straight-teeth-and-straight-A's teen sister, Beezus (Selena Gomez). Indeed, much to her annoyance, senior sis has been burdened with that ungainly moniker as the result of Ramona's childhood inability to pronounce her real name, Beatrice.

Besides their tiffs, the only source of worry or conflict on the girls' native Klickitat Street—a real-life address that Cleary's tales have made iconic—arises from Dad's loss of his accounting job. (Add to that the aggravating factor that the family has just embarked on an expansion of their home, a project they might not have the funds to finish, and this aspect of Laurie Craig and Nick Pustay's script begins to feel very much of the moment.)

Unemployment leads to mild marital tensions, and Dad finds himself spending a night on the couch. But, like the prospect of the bank "taking the house"—an expression Ramona overhears and interprets with a comic extreme of literalism—the specter of divorce seems quite distant along this boulevard of unbroken dreams.

Lightening the mood is the swiftly rekindling romance between Ramona's favorite aunt—and Beezus' namesake—Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin) and her high school true love Hobart (Josh Duhamel). Ever the ramblin' man, Hobart is off to Alaska and floats the idea of Bea coming with him. But anyone who fears she might do so before exchanging marriage vows has clearly not been paying attention.

Beezus, too, has an affair of the heart under way, having fallen for childhood friend Henry Huggins (Hutch Dano, not Rex Harrison). In keeping with the delightfully innocent atmosphere of la rue Klickitat, it takes this bashful young pair the better part of 90 minutes to work their way up to a first kiss.

Though some fussy adults with short attention spans may object that nothing very momentous happens as "Ramona and Beezus" unspools, as should be obvious by now, what does take place transpires in the nicest possible way.

So just you wait, Henry Huggins, just you wait.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences. All ages admitted.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Leopold Mandic: Western Christians who are working for greater dialogue with Orthodox Christians may be reaping the fruits of Father Leopold’s prayers.
<p>A native of Croatia, Leopold joined the Capuchin Franciscans and was ordained several years later in spite of several health problems. He could not speak loudly enough to preach publicly. For many years he also suffered from severe arthritis, poor eyesight and a stomach ailment.
</p><p>Leopold taught patrology, the study of the Church Fathers, to the clerics of his province for several years, but he is best known for his work in the confessional, where he sometimes spent 13-15 hours a day. Several bishops sought out his spiritual advice.
</p><p>Leopold’s dream was to go to the Orthodox Christians and work for the reunion of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. His health never permitted it. Leopold often renewed his vow to go to the Eastern Christians; the cause of unity was constantly in his prayers.
</p><p>At a time when Pope Pius XII said that the greatest sin of our time is "to have lost all sense of sin," Leopold had a profound sense of sin and an even firmer sense of God’s grace awaiting human cooperation.
</p><p>Leopold, who lived most of his life in Padua, died on July 30, 1942, and was canonized in 1982.</p> American Catholic Blog Confession is one of the greatest gifts Christ gave to His Church. The sacrament of penance offers you grace that is incomparable in your quest for sanctity.

 
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