Constant readers may remember my dislike of the messages in "Shrek the Third", and I'm happy to report that the children's film I saw yesterday was a lovely antidote to that sexist, *, stunningly executed piece of garbage.
"Bridge to Terabithia" was shot in the US and New Zealand, and the cast of kids at school was a great (perhaps idealized, but hey, it's using your imagination, which is what the film is all about) mix of colours and styles. It wasn't full of cookie cutters, and the possible stereotypes were tweaked pretty well.
There was a great message for parents, I thought, about having time for your kids (dads, hug your boys!) Overall it showed kids that they did not have to make a choice between 'reality' and creativity/happiness - they can coexist. And there were some decent attempts at encouraging empathy, standing up for yourself, etc. After one scene which showed the result of selective violence (comeuppance for a 'bad guy'), I laughed and laughed. Like I told the 7 year old afterward: I generally don't like punching, but sometimes people deserve a punch in the nose**.
It's a fun film with a bit of sadness (warning, bring tissues), great pacing, and for the most part a bad soundtrack (little heavy on girly pop which wears on me quickly). The film was based on a novel, which I remember seeing at the library when I was a kid. I'm planning to pick it up at the library this summer, finally giving it a read.
*what's a simple world for not noticing that there are other people besides white people in the world? - although I believe the situation stems from racism, I think it's to simplistic to call it racism, it must be better defined than that.
**hours after writing this I read it again and wonder if that came out how I feel it - I mean: dammit, there is a time for words (which is also pointed out very explicitly in the film) and a time to DO SOMETHING. Which may be having fun with your best friend or may be punching a jerk in the nose. Punching, is to be used sparingly, in extreme circumstances.
While looking at reviews of this film just now, I came across this awful review at Slashfilm (don't click if you hate spoilers, there are many here), and although there are thoughtful comments, many of them were about how awful the film was, not enough special effects, etc. I left my own 'brilliant' comment there. One commenter mentioned actually avoiding the film, but the negative comments encouraged them to check it out. I can only hope that in lieu of children's films (hell, all films) being properly marketed, more people like me will write about films they were pleasantly surprised by.