Alan Markfield

Ramona and Beezus is not the messy, funny kids' movie it should be. It is a live-action Porn for Women book, packed with pastel colors and perfect men doing perfect things—helping with the laundry, packing the kids' lunches, driving around in a rainbow-colored Jeep that has been accidentally covered with the contents of dozens of paint cans just so no one has to worry about the several thousand dollars it would cost to fix it. (I know that last one sounds messy, but it isn't—the complementary stripes fall down the car in a way that looks more like one of the contestants of Bravo's Work of Art got their hands on it, rather than a clumsy 9-year-old.)

The movie doesn't exist for a generation of people who grew up relating to and loving Ramona Q, the precocious little girl with an overactive imagination. It's for their mothers. (Or, I suppose, the mothers they've become.) And while Joey King does a great job breathing life into the beloved literary character ($20 says at least 10 reviews compare her performance to Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam and declare this film her official beginning of Hollywood stardom), it's hard to ignore the fact that everyone who surrounds her is completely transparent and one-dimensional.

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Beezus (played by Selena Gomez and the giant vein in Selena Gomez's neck) is the 100 percent predictable older sister—she's pretty, she's smart, she has a crush on the neighborhood boy, and she gets annoyed by everything Ramona does because don't all big sisters get annoyed by everything their little sister does? Her dad (Aidan from Sex and the City) is the definition of patience, and her mom (Natasha, Mr. Big's temporary wife from Sex and the City!) is supportive but removed enough from the film so all those watching housewives can imagine themselves in the role. (Because who doesn't want to make out with Aidan from Sex and the City!?)

Sadly, the movie is less about bringing to life the quirky Ramona Q and more about being a sweet and tender family flick. It's a housewife's wet dream of what her family could be like, even with the goofy kid, if fantasies did come true. recommended

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