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'Ramona and Beezus' Both Touching and Charming

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momlogic's Vivian:Anyone who's read the books knows that Ramona Quimby (played by captivating newcomer Joey King) is one handful of a 9-year-old. Her never-ending hijinks -- be they deliberate (an angst-filled depleting of family toothpaste) or accidental (breaking an egg over her own head on picture day) -- provide endless bemusement for her parents, Robert (John Corbett) and Dorothy (Bridget Moynahan), but wear endlessly on buttoned-up big sis Beezus (Selena Gomez) and snarky teacher Mrs. Meacham (Sandra Oh, who delivers some of the best lines in the film).

Ramona and Beezus

Plucky Ramona stumbles from awkward situation to humiliation both in school and out, launching the occasional surreal sequence to provide us with a peek into her fraught mental landscape. She finds solace from her daily travails by adventuring with her best friend, Howie, and her soulmate and adult likeness, Aunt Bea (a likable Ginnifer Goodwin).

When Mr. Quimby is mercilessly downsized from his boring office job and tensions between her parents rise, Ramona heroically tries to save their house (a symbol of her parents' marriage) through a variety of fruitless endeavors that invite ridicule -- among them, a lemonade stand and a "Peanut-Butter Princess" audition. But it's when Ramona and her artistically inclined dad join forces and let their freak flags fly by drawing the "longest picture in the world" that their world finally shifts on its axis and gets a whole lot sunnier.

To balance out the marital tension in the Quimby household, there's a cute subplot designed for the older tween and mom viewer, which involves Aunt Bea getting "reeled in like a sea bass" by her high-school sweetheart, Hobart (played by the hunky Josh Duhamel). It's a syrupy cute story, but a bit romantic and gushy for young girls who seek their reflection in Ramona. Aside from King, the standout in this film is the ever-affable Corbett, whose easy take on the "warm dad" role will surely bombard him with a bevy of "good dad" parts for years to come.

Overall, I found "Ramona and Beezus" a touching, charming glimpse into the classic Beverly Cleary books. So don't miss "Ramona and Beezus," coming to theaters July 23rd!

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