Remember the name Joey King.
That's not some crusty old Vegas comedian, but the pint-size star of "Ramona and Beezus." As the misfit middle child of a Portland, Ore., family, the kid's a natural, and she's likely to be sticking around awhile.
The same can't be said for the movie, which is so friction-free that it slips from memory before the credits fade.
Although it's based on the first book in a beloved series by Beverly Cleary ("Henry Huggins") that debuted in 1955, "Ramona and Beezus" is set in the present. So there's a potentially timely subplot about her father (John Corbett) losing his job and wondering whether to uproot his wife (Bridget Moynihan) and three kids to some scrubbier, start-over locale.
No problem, declares spunky, 9-year-old Ramona, who opens a lemonade stand and then a car-washing service to stave off the bill collectors. This is one of those family flicks where every mishap — a car covered in rainbow paint — is an occasion for forgiving hugs.
The books are built around the mostly love-sometimes hate relationship between imaginative Ramona and her adolescent sister Beatrice (aka "Beezus," played by Selena Gomez). But here, that relationship takes a back seat to the economic uncertainty and to the romantic travails of Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin) and her carefree ex-boyfriend Hobart (Josh Duhamel).
The divided focus is so fuzzy that we never get a clear sense of what makes Ramona so special. There are a couple of cute animated fantasy sequences but, except for a limber pop-rock soundtrack ("Walking on Sunshine" again?), there's little of the rubbery energy that propels kid-centric comedies like "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
Still, in Vegas, they're betting that Joey King will bounce back.