After being subjected to Bridge to Terabithia’s marketing campaign, one would presumably place the literary-inspired work into the same box as The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. However, Bridge to Terabithia is nowhere near the type of motion picture that one would expect. Let’s say it’s out-of-the box thinking. While the movie adaptation may be labeled magical, the magic is more practical rather than mystical.
Simply put, Bridge to Terabithia is a well-imagined, gloriously germane production. The film is considerate of the innate adult urge to become infused with the nostalgia of racing to the end of the road, building forts, and living with your “head in the clouds.” Despite its PG rating, Bridge to Terabithia is not a kid’s movie; it’s a tear-jerking drama for the kid in every fun-loving adult.
Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) is an artistically talented and bullied fifth grader who lives a poor country lifestyle with his mother, father, and four sisters. After training all summer to be the fastest in his class, Jess manages to beat every boy in a race. On the other hand, he loses to a girl named Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb). Leslie is a new student at Jess’s school, his new neighbor, and the well-off daughter of two authors.
Bearing in mind that Jess and Leslie get off at the same bus stop and picked on by the same bully named Janice (Lauren Clinton), the pair begins to bond. When they find an old rope that traverses a creek, they swing across and invent a magical land called Terabithia. In Terabithia, Jess and Leslie pronounce themselves King and Queen respectively. As the friendship between Jess and Leslie continues to blossom, Jess discovers how to live freely, love eternally, and “keep [his] mind wide open.”
With this liberating sense of wonder, Bridge to Terabithia is about looking past the worries of money, popularity, and life’s daily woes; it’s about cherishing God’s greatest gifts: life, love, free will, and imagination. This in mind, Bridge to Terabithia possesses everything you’d imagine/hope for and more — tears, fantasy, realism, religion, and earnest relationships.
What’s more, the film radiates with an intrinsic appreciation of the little things (e.g. the simple exchange of Juicy Fruit, the transforming power of a black marker, the calming sensation of the wind in your hair, and the insignificant scurrying of an ant amid high-school gossip). And, at no point does Bridge to Terabithia’s authentic depiction of the trials and tribulations of a typical grade-schooler trump this sense of gratitude. While both Jess and Leslie encounter a villainous, backseat-hogging bully, a mounting sense of peer pressure, and the strains of familial issues, they always escape the despair and let the positive prevail.
So, forget any preconceived notion that you may have about this picture (most likely based on its marketing campaign), and make an honest effort to get lost in this film. It will bring back a youthful smile, demand an emotional response, and leave you indebted and carefree. Bridge to Terabithia is the ultimate bridge between your childhood memories and your much-needed adult escapism.