I'm told by my wife, who was an avid reader of the books when she was young, that the stories of Ramona and her older sister Beezus were among her favorites. Ramona (Joey King) is a rambunctious nine year-old girl with an outlandish imagination. As she jumps out of the hole in her house, made by the family's home renovation, she imagines parachuting from the sky. She's a free spirit and a daydreamer.
Ramona soon finds out that her father (John Corbett) has lost his job and overhears that they may be in danger of losing their home. Ramona loves her family and so she sets out to earn enough money on her own to save her house while her dad finds a new job.
If the movie had stuck to this plot it would have been decent. The problem with 'Ramona and Beezus' is that it follows so many tangents and subplots that it's hard to keep everything straight. It's as though a person with Ramona's insanely wandering imagination dreamed it all up. Ramona has an aunt (Jennifer Goodwin) who likes her neighbor, only he broke her heart long ago and she doesn't want to get reeled back in by his charm. Beezus (Selina Gomez), Ramona's sister, also has a heartthrob in mind but doesn't know how to break it to him. Even though Beezus is a title character she takes the back seat as an overbearing older sister who sees fit to boss her younger sister around. The movie could have been called 'Ramona,' and been just fine.
Credit to the movie, it's full of some terrific performances. Young Joey King plays Ramona with an exuberance and excitement that's refreshing. John Corbett is always good as the wholesome, wise, and caring father who wants nothing more than to see his kids succeed. After witnessing him on Showtime's 'The United States of Tara' Corbett is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. He's one of those actors who makes acting look effortless.
'Ramona and Beezus' has its moments, and is endearing in quite a few spots, but I can't help but wonder what the movie might have been like if they hadn't wasted so much time on extraneous subplots that didn't add much to the overall story. We came here to see Ramona and how she deals with life, but in 'Ramona and Beezus' Ramona gets shoved to the backburner far too often in order for the other stories to be told.
'Ramona and Beezus' is presented in 1080p in its original 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
As you'll notice almost right away, the movie is presented with a very warm color palette. Primaries are bold and often very bright. Blacks are mostly even throughout, but sometimes become borderline crushing during some of the darker scenes. Likewise, shadows are nicely constructed and delineated. The scene in Ramona's new room that takes place at night when she's frightened in bed is a great example of shadow detail. Fine detail on the other hand isn't as lucky as the vibrant colors. The entire image suffers from a softness that persists throughout the film. Facial details are almost non-existent. This may be the intended affect of the presentation, but nevertheless you're not going to get that high definition signature pop with this presentation.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track accompanying 'Ramona and Beezus' to Blu-ray is perfectly acceptable.
The majority of the film is very front-heavy, with dialogue and much of the movie's musical soundtrack featured front and center. LFE occasionally escapes from the subwoofer during times when Ramona is floating away in her imagination like when the monkey bars at school stretch into a treacherous Grand Canyon scene. Dialogue is perfectly clear. There weren't any times where the actor's voices were hard to hear. The music is light and spunky and is piped through the front and center channels, but it intermittently finds its way to the rears. The surround channels don't get a lot of action, except during Ramona's scenes of imagination.
Overall, this presentation isn't going to blow you away, but it won't disappoint either.
'Ramona and Beezus' is a decent little kids movie that could be enjoyed by the whole family and particularly by fans of Beverly Cleary's classic books. It's varying, superfluous subplots make it harder to watch than it should be. Ramona far too often gets thrown around and becomes a secondary character as other inconsequential characters take center stage. It does have delightful acting and quite a few chuckle-worthy scenes though. The video and audio are about what you'd expect for a movie like this. Slightly above average, but nothing to get excited about. This release comes with a rental recommendation, just because I don't see myself watching it again.