Bridge to Terabithia
So my nephews (ages 6 and 8) slept over slumber party style the other night (Game cube, pizza, Camp Lazlo movie, pudding cups, juice boxes) and the next day we went to the movies. I had heard about Bridge to Terabithia but I didn't really know much about it. I sort of scanned the reviews and a couple mentioned it was some 'use your imagination' type flick. Sort of like a Pan's Labyrinth (without the smashing a guy's face to a pulp with the business end of a bottle until he dies for no reason type scenes). So I figured that would be good for them. We showed up at the theater at 12:30 for a 12:35 movie. Got some popcorn and a soda and sat in the 2nd to last row because the theater was crowded.
The following will contain spoilers!! because there's no way to avoid it without telling this story. So sorry. I know I say I never do spoilers but I'm gonna make an exception this time so here we go and stuff. Consider yourself warned!
I was sort of excited for a big use your imagination type flick. Those are my favorite kind. And I think kids need more imagination tapping these days. Unfortunately this movie was sort of too close to Pan's Labyrinth in terms of the amount of imagination. Both these flicks have the 'imagination' worlds as sort of an afterthought to the boring ol' real world. The children (boy and girl. both 10 years old.) never dive deep into their 'other' world. Creature here. Mission there. Flying thing swoop. Glimpse of something. But it was really just filler and it wasn't that impressive. And they never go far enough into their world to even hint at the idea of any of it being actually real. It's all obviously 'fantasy'. There's no illusion to the possibility of the other reality being a real reality.
But what was nice about this flick was that I thought the kid actors were pretty cool. It never really was boring. The school bus scenes were nice. And there were moments of excitement and blah blah. The nephews seemed to be enjoying it enough so I figured I was in for a snoozy run of the mill 'fantasy' flick with few surprises. But then I got hit with a wallop of a surprise. (NOTE: THIS IS THE PART WITH THE BIG SPOILER)
At the 3/4 mark the lead girl 10 year old character DIES! We don't see her die or anything. It's sort of announced. She goes off on her own and falls and dies. The boy is emotionally crushed and destroyed. There's a trip to the grieving parents house. Lonely walks in the forest with the kid and no best friend. Trauma and guilt. I was like, 'Oh fuck! There's like sad kid death in this movie! I didn't know there was like death death! Like kid human real life death!' I couldn't remember seeing a flick where some kid dies since friggin the Macuckly Cucklin flick where that girl gets stung 50x in the eyeball by a bee and croaks or whatever. I felt weird. I felt like I was exposing my nephews to a 'message' movie by accident. I was scared that I was going to have to 'explain death' afterwards and I felt totally unprepared. What if the nephews ask about death? What if they don't? Should I bring it up? I haven't done the parental research! Is it angels in heaven explanation? Or circle of life?
After the movie ended the nephews were quiet. We sat there not even putting on our coats. I didn't know what to say. The younger nephew seemed unphased. I asked him if he thought it was weird that the girl died. He told me 'Not really because she didn't really die in real life... She was just off hiding in the woods, right?' I guess it didn't register or it got smushed down in his head or whatever. I agreed she was hiding in the woods. I decided not to pick at any scab because it seemed healthy enough. The older one said, 'I didn't think someone died in this movie.' I told him I didn't know either. He said he probably wouldn't have wanted to go to this movie if he knew someone died. I told him I agreed with that. Then he put on his coat and said sort of teasingly, 'You should have warnnned ussss...' Which sounded like, 'You should have researched better Mr. Uncle--- before exposinnnng ussss....' And I agreed with that too.
Three Good Things About this Movie
- I liked the big troll.
- Some of the family moments were touching.
- I wasn't bored or annoyed.
Three Bad Things About this Movie
- It could have been so much better if it wanted to be.
- Sometimes it felt like it was just treading water.
- There was too much 'meanness' in the flick.
All in all, I think both nephews were ok with it all. I probably overthunk the death thing. I wouldn't have minded so much if the movie was better. But I thought it was sort of a non-starter. As for the death thing, I'm sure there's better moments out there to teach death stuff to kids than this movie-- which just sort of used a death as a shocker twist tool--- to finally open up a fantasy world that should have been opened up like an hour prior to her friggin kicking the bucket...
PS. Half-way through the flick my nephew pointed out to me that the guy kid was an illustrator and the girl kid seemed to be a writer. He said, 'I bet they're writing a book!' I was floored! I thought that was really coolio as a concept! After the girl died I figured he'd make the book. Written by dead girl and illustrated by him. Touching! I thought he came up with a big spoiler. But that didn't even happen. It would have been coolio. Oh well...