Josh Hutcherson plays artist Jess Aarons
Bridge to Terabithia on IMDB
Jesse "Jess" Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) is a twelve-year-old aspiring artist living with his financially struggling family in Lark Creek. He rides the bus to school with his little sister May Belle (Bailee Madison), where he avoids the school bully Janice Avery (Lauren Clinton). In class, Jess is teased by classmates Scott Hoager (Cameron Wakefield) and Gary Fulcher (Elliot Lawless), and meets new student Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb). At recess, Jess enters a running event, for which he had been training at home. Leslie also enters and manages to beat all the boys, much to Jess' irritation. On the way home, Jess and Leslie learn that they are next-door neighbors.
Later in the evening, Jess becomes frustrated when he finds that May Belle has drawn in his notebook, but his strict father (Robert Patrick) sides with her. He later watches them gardening together, disappointed that his father does not spend time with him. The next day at school, Leslie compliments Jess' drawing ability after seeing his notebook, and they soon become friends. After school, they venture into the woods and swing across a creek on a rope. Jess and Leslie find an abandoned tree house on the other side, and invent a new world, which they call Terabithia. The fantasy world, which is a reflection on their lives, comes to life through their eyes as they explore the surroundings. For the next few days, Jess and Leslie spend their free time in the tree house getting to know each other.
Leslie gives Jess an art kit on his birthday, much to his delight. Jess becomes angry with his father's attitude towards him, and refuses the existence of Terabithia the next day at school. Afterwards, Jess apologizes to Leslie by giving her a puppy and Leslie instantly forgives him. Leslie decides to name the puppy Prince Terrien. Once in Terabithia, they fight with various creatures, including a troll resembling Janice. At school, Leslie becomes frustrated by Janice's fee for entering the toilet. Jess and Leslie play a prank on Janice, and she becomes the laughingstock of everyone on the bus. Once Leslie's parents finish their book, she and Jess help paint their house. Jess is impressed by her parents happiness, and smiles as he watches their family. At school, Leslie discovers that Janice is abused by her father, and they become friends. Jess tells Leslie that his father is always mad at him. Jess and Leslie take P.T. to Terabithia, where they fight off several creatures resembling students at their school. They decide to go home, and Jess smiles as Leslie runs back to her house.
The next morning, Ms. Edmunds (Zooey Deschanel), Jess' music teacher, calls to invite him on a one-on-one field trip to an art museum. Jess tries to ask his mother's permission; however, she is half-asleep and he takes her mumbling as approval. Jess does not ask Leslie to accompany him, and merely looks at her house as they drive by. When he returns home, Jess finds that his father and mother are worried sick because they did not know where he was. His father tells him that Leslie had died that morning while trying to swing across the rain-swollen creek. Jess is deeply grieved, and visits the Burke family home with his parents to pay their respects. Leslie's father, Bill Burke (Latham Gaines), tells Jess that she loved him, and thanks him for being a very good friend to her, since she had trouble making friends at her old school. Jess feels overwhelming guilt for Leslie's death, but his father consoles him to keep their friendship alive for her sake. Jess decides to reimagine Terabithia and builds a bridge across the river to welcome a new ruler. He invites his sister, May Belle to enter Terabithia; she is delighted because she was previously denied any opportunity to enter. She and Jess bring back Terabithia in even greater splendor, with Jess as king and his sister as princess.
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