by RISHI AGRAWAL
It is easy to lament the lack of family entertainment these days. I know that Ty Burr, film critic of the Boston Globe recently wrote a book on family films. His suggestion was, if you really wanted family-friendly viewing, the best place to turn is old films. While I think the idea to expose children to older movies is a good one, I also think that we should continue to praise family films that work. Bridge to Terabithia is one such film. Not only is it good family entertainment, I would even go so far as to say that parents should watch this film with this children.
This is not a film where parents should flip on the television and then leave the room. There are some very serious issues in this film, and children may have a difficult time coping with some of the themes without adults to guide them. This film was definitely mismarketed by Disney. Although the fantasy elements of the film are well-done and memorable, they are really a subplot to the larger issue of tweeners trying to cope with everyday life in junior high.
This is the perfect film for children who feel like they are a little outside the norm. Practically every child feels that way in junior high, which is an awkward and emotional time. And, even though I am recommending this film as family viewing, I think it can be enjoyed by practically anyone. Just make sure you check your sense of irony and cynicism at the door and be ready to enjoy a sincere, heartfelt film.
The DVD is available in full screen and widescreen editions as well as Blu-Ray. This is a film that you probably want to see in widescreen, as the visuals in this film are really something to behold. There are two featurettes: one on the digital technology used to create the film (personally, I am getting a little sick of these) and one on the themes from the book. There is also a music video by Annasophia Robb, one of the young actresses in the film and two commentary tracks. The first commentary track is with Director Gabor Csupo, Writer Jeff Stockwell and Producer Hal Lieberman. The other commentary track is with actors Josh Hutcherson and Annasophia Robb along with Producer Lauren Levine.
Other new releases this week: The Abandoned, Miss Potter, Reno 911!: Miami