When you've waited a long time for a film to be made of a book you really love, you hope with all your heart that the end result will be worth it. Bridge to Terabithia, the film adaptation of Katherine Paterson's beloved book of the same name, opens this weekend, and I'm delighted to report that this is a heartfelt, respectful, and remarkably well-done film. The film is directed by Gabor Csupo, marking the Rugrats' director's big-screen debut directing live actors. Csupo retains the sense of wonder he's brought to Rugrats for so long, but with Bridge to Terabithia, he shows he's a solid director who's able to handle more sensitive material without losing the magic. He does such a good job, I'm almost willing to forgive him for creating Rugrats obnoxious Angelica.
Bridge to Terabithia, the novel, was storytelling at it's best: a simple, pure plot, and compelling characters with believable arcs and obstacles to overcome, and it translates very well to the screen. The story revolves around the unlikely friendship that forms between fifth-grader Jesse Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) and new-girl-in-town Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb). Jesse and Leslie live in a small, rural town, and attend a dreary small-town school where, apparently, the adults have abandoned all hope at the door, surrendering the playground to the eighth-grade bullies.