Story

Bridge to Terabithia is based on a book by Katherine Paterson. The movie opens with Jess (Josh Hutcherson) training for a big race that he hopes to win. He is one of five children with two older and two younger sisters. His parents are preoccupied with financial difficulties and pay little attention to him. The only relationship he seems to have is with his younger sister May Belle (Bailee Madison). He is a loner at school, and bullied constantly by the other boys.

On the day of the race a new girl arrives at Jess's school. Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) is different from the other girls both in her dress and behaviour. The race is only supposed to be for boys, but at the last minute, Leslie joins in. Jess is the fastest boy and just as he is about to win, Leslie races past him. Although angry with her at first, he begins to talk to her on the way home and they become friends. Leslie is an only child and comes from a happy home but her writer parents tend to neglect her when they are working.

With parental neglect in common, Jess and Leslie form a bond. They also have another thing in common: creative active imaginations. Jess can draw and Leslie can write. Each day after school the two of them head off to a secret place on the other side of a river. They use an old rope to swing over to the land they call Terabithia. This imagined place has trolls, an evil dark master and scary animals.

Through their adventures Jess and Leslie figure out ways to deal with the bullies and the difficulties that they face at school and at home.

Themes

The death of someone close; bullying

Violence

  • Both Jess and Leslie are pushed around by the bullies in the school and intimidated. They sometimes retaliate by hitting, punching, shoving and tripping.
  • Scary creatures from Terabithia, such as huge birds and other woodland creatures, attack Jess and Leslie. The children fend them off, hitting them with sticks.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

Children in this age group are unlikely to understand that the creatures in Terabithia exist only in Jess and Leslie’s imagination and many will find images such as the giant troll, huge birds and menacing furry animals scary. 

Children might also be disturbed by the accidental death of a leading character (not seen) and its aftermath.

From 8-13

Some children in this age group could be disturbed by the accidental death of a leading character (not seen) and its aftermath.

Over 13

Children over 13 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Sexual references

This movie includes some references to boyfriends and girlfriends being in love.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

This movie contains some very mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Bridge to Terabithia is an appealing adventure film with some fantasy elements. Its main message is the value and importance of friendship and how it can help people overcome difficulties that initially appear insurmountable. It also highlights the importance of imagination and how it can help solve problems and open up different worlds.

You can talk with your children about some of the values examined in this movie: friendship, trust in others, loyalty, caring, understanding and empathy, and not judging people before you know them. You can also talk about other issues raised such as bullying, and the grief and guilt that one feels when someone close dies.