Friday Film Review | 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.'
Based on the often banned Judy Blume book of the same name, the film “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” will fill your soul with nostalgia and your heart with empathy.
Margaret, 11, returns home from summer camp to learn her life is about to undergo the drastic and devastating change of leaving New York City for dreaded New Jersey. Little does she know, this is only the first of many changes she will endure in the upcoming year; her ideas of friendship, understanding of religion and her body itself, are all about to change.
This coming-of-age film is a nostalgic look back at 1970 through fashion, furniture and a fun soundtrack.
Margaret is played by Abby Ryder Fortson, who has been a child actress since the age of seven. She is wonderfully authentic as the “almost” twelve-year-old daughter of a Jewish father and Christian mother, who develops angst as she contemplates everything from choosing a religion to buying a bra.
At some point, Margaret decides to use God as her sounding board and miracle worker. She talks to Him in earnest, asking questions and making requests.
Fortson’s expressive face and spot-on acting keep you focused on her every move, as she navigates the mysterious world of the suburbs, new friends, new experiences and emotions.
Judy Blume’s book, on which the film is based, was published in 1970, and selected by The New York Times as The Book of the Year and by Scholastic as one of the 100 Greatest Books for Kids. The book’s frank discussion of emerging sexuality, onset of menstruation and allowing a child to choose their own religion also landed it on the American Library Association’s list of 100 most challenged or banned books.
Rachel McAdams is lovely, as mother Barbara, who undergoes her own metamorphosis move. Kathy Bates plays Grandma Sylvia, the much-loved, and force with which to be reckoned, Jewish mother-in-law.
What’s the target audience for this film? Anyone who grew since the 70’s and read this book. Any parent who read it to kids at bedtime. Anyone who remembers the awkwardness of adolescence in any decade. Anyone who enjoys a wonderful story with an optimistic ending.
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” is rated PG-13 and runs 1 hour and 46 delightfully realistic minutes.