As a child in the 70s, I read a lot of Beverly Cleary books, including Henry Huggins and Ramona books. So, I was delighted when my older kids (8 and 11) showed an interest in seeing Beezus and Ramona, perhaps because Selena Gomez, Disney child star, plays Beezus. I was a little afraid that they would think it was babyish, but they seemed to enjoy it very much. The movie follows some of the plot of Ramona and her Father, and apparently some of Ramona Forever, a book written fifteen years after the rest, in 1999 (and therefore never read by me). What I thought was interesting about the movie was just how much was changed to reflect the sentiments of this century, not the 1970s.
As you may recall, Ramona is Beatrice's (Beezus') little sister, and the books portrayed her as a a human Curious George, always being a pest and getting into trouble. She's not mean-spirited, but nevertheless causes much trouble for others around her. At the end of a Ramona story, Ramona grows up a little with the help of her sensible, but sensitive, family. However, in the movie, Ramona is still a pest and causes much trouble, but mostly people around her end up growing and coming to see how wonderful Ramona is. There are touching moments between Beezus and Ramona where Beezus tells Ramona how much she admires her because she is her own person and doesn't color between the lines, etc.
Also, in the book, Ramona's father, who never went to college, loses his job and becomes depressed hanging around the house with Ramona all day. In the movie, Ramona's father, who is an accountant, loses his job and throws his creativity and good attitude into making lunches for the girls and entertaining Ramona when she is home sick from school. Also, in the book, the father takes up smoking, leading Ramona to put up "No Smoking" signs around the house, only to be chastised that this is none of her business. In today's world, that would not fly. In addition, in the book, her father's favorite saying is "First time is funny, second time is silly, third time is a spanking." He says this to Ramona a lot. This did not make it into the movie, either. So, Ramona's father is nudged into the professional class and reformed into the kind of dad who embraces his free spirit daughter. And, instead of taking a job as checker at the grocery store as in the book, Ramona's father in the movie eventually turns down a job with a start-up company to take a job teaching art at Ramona's school.
All in all, a fun family movie, and an interesting reflection of how the world has changed since the first Ramona book was written in 1968.
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