In case you haven’t seen it yet, I must warn you now, Bridge to Terabithia is not at all the movie that is portrayed in the TV previews. It’s not a bad movie at all, just not what the previews promise.

I remember reading the story as a pre-teen and being struck by how sad it was, but there is no hint of that in the previews. I didn’t want to spoil the story for you, but it isn’t something I would want to take a child to unaware.

I would classify the story as part of the tradition of literature called Magical Realism, which blends aspects of fantasy and realism. In this particular story the realism hits rather hard at times. When one is expecting a straight forward fantasy story ala The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, sudden realism can be quite a shock. Apparently the book is often censored by parents when read in elementary school classrooms. I’m not saying that children shouldn’t read it, it’s just that parents should have some warning that their kids might be upset and need to talk.

On the positive side, the characters are much more multifaceted than are common in children’s movies. Bullies and neglectful parents are not shown as one dimensional villains, but real people dealing with life in imperfect ways. To their credit, Disney created a movie that stays fairly true to the book, but why their marketing people then strayed so far from the mark in creating the previews I can’t understand.