Bridge To Terabithia - *SPOILERS!!!*

Posted by Brandon |

If you want to see Bridge To Terabithia but are scared that I will ruin it, here is your quick spoiler alert.

Let me start this off by saying that growing up, I never read the 1977 novel by Katherine Pearson so I can not attest to how well the film Bridge To Terabithia does at sticking to the book. And having never read the book, I let the trailers shape my first impressions of the film. I expected a film with less of a real-world plot and more fantasy. Luckily my wife had read the book as a child and properly warned me of the basic premise of the film...loner boy meets loner girl and become great friends and spend their time after school in the woods where they have created their own fantasy world, but loner girl is killed one day and loner boy has to come to grips. I realized as soon as we sat down that most of the parents in the theater did not do their homework and subsequently walked away with upset and confused children. Now many parents are upset with how Disney supposedly misled them and they are taking their own failures out on an otherwise wonderful movie.

Admittedly, the trailers and much of the advertising for the movie make it out to be a fantasy within the realm of The Chronicles of Narnia (that's what I originally thought it would be like). The Cronicles of Narnia it is not. Instead, at it's core, it is a very real story of Jesse and Leslie (played ably by Josh Hutcherson and the bright shining light of the film, AnnaSophia Robb) that deals with issues as complex as isolation, fantasy, religion, love and death in the real world. It is an exceptional film that presents these themes as delicately and with more grace than most similar children's dramas usually do.

But it's not a film for really small children who will only be bored and unaware to what is going on. It isn't for children whose parents that are unable to talk to their kids and explain and explore what they just saw. It also isn't for lazy parents who don't bother to research the movies they are taking their kids to see. And it isn't for parents that want to shelter their kids from these issues as long as they can. Or, in other words, it isn't a film for people afraid to do any actual parenting.

These are the people who are actively complaining and protesting against this film just as these were the same people who made the novel one of the biggest targets of library censors. But with just a click of the mouse or, ironically enough, a library card these parents could have made an informed decision as to whether or not this would be the movie for them to take their impressionable children to this weekend. If the trailer on television was the only research that they did, then they have nobody to blame for their children's questions, comments and tears but themselves.

I'm not a parent yet and maybe it isn't my place to say, but I think that doing this kind of research is a very important but very easy part of parenting that helps separate the good parents from the bad ones. If parents can't do these simple things to inform themselves, then they have to suck it up and talk to their kids about what they saw. If they are unable or unwilling to do this, they need to face facts and admit that they are indeed crappy parents who are willing to risk their children's emotional development because of their inability to do their job.

But instead of looking in the mirror many have blamed the trailers and unjustly put down a beautiful and touching movie. Gullibility on the part of crummy parents isn't the fault of director Gabor Csupo, Pearson, Hutcherson, Robb, Disney or Walden Media. The value of this film shouldn't be judged by those unwilling to do their jobs as parents but should be judged based on it's merits and the opportunity it gives good parents to help their children learn some important life lessons.


Reel Fanatic said...

I did read Patterson's great book when I was 9 years old .. I was planning on skipping the movie because the commercials, which play up the fantasy angle quite a bit, just look nothing like the book I remember .. I'm beginning to think, however, that I should give it a chance

Jesse said...

I agree with the above. I also read the book (of my own volition no less) way back when and the trailers had me thinking that the filmmakers had completely missed the point; I may have to go see it now. I'm pretty sure the book is still at the parents' house if you ever feel inclined to read it.