One wonders if the makers of Bridge to Terabithia actually have something against all the people who loved reading Katherine Paterson's award-winning book as children. The original story, which deals with loneliness, isolation, and the importance of friendship, is now -- thanks to a cloying screenplay by Jeff Stockwell and the book's author's son David Paterson -- little more than an anodyne valentine to the power of the imagination or some such cliché popular among vulgarizers of young adult literature. You could ask, why can't they just leave well enough alone? The answer, unfortunately, is they never do.
A great many problems with Bridge to Terabithia could have been solved by casting, and unfortunately director Gabor Csupo gets that wrong from the start. The protagonist, Jesse Aarons, a lonely fifth grader in a small town, is played with sullen inattention by Josh Hutcherson. His better half is Leslie Burke, the new girl in town, performed by AnnaSophia Robb with a bright and shallow perkiness that suggests a callow Keira Knightley 10 years ago. With not much going in the way of interpersonal chemistry between the two leads, it's difficult for the film's rather (on the surface) uneventful and deeply interior story to gain much traction.
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