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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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Peter of Alcantara: Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended. 
<p>Born into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.</p><p>Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara."</p><p>In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.</p><p>As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.</p><p>He was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Remember the widow’s mite. She threw into the treasury of the temple only two small coins, but with them, all her great love…. It is, above all, the interior value of the gift that counts: the readiness to share everything, the readiness to give oneself. —Pope John Paul II

 
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