Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Review

PLOT: A young girl finds herself struggling after her family moves away from the city. Based on the popular novel of the same name, by Judy Blume.

REVIEW: My recollection of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is very vague. I knew Judy Blume and had perhaps read some of her books, but not this tale of a preteen girl. So even with the talent involved, I wasn’t excited about the movie. And then, I sat down for a screening. Perhaps it was the charms of the lovely and vibrant Rachel McAdams as Margaret’s mom? Sure. How about the excellent work of Kathy Bates as Margaret’s loving grandmother? Yes, yes, yes. And then there is the terrific Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret. Yet, the superstar here is writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig. Let’s dig in and see if Margaret’s prayers get answered.

Margaret (Fortson) is a happy girl living with her adorably quirky parents, played by McAdams and Benny Safdie. That is until they move to a quaint suburban neighborhood, far from the city the young girl loved. Once they arrive and settle in, Margaret finds herself starting over. With a couple of new friends, Nancy (Elle Graham) and Price (Amari Alexis), the three girls start a bit of a competition regarding growing into womanhood. Even still, being away from her grandmother (the excellent Kathy Bates) takes its toll on the young girl. Will Margaret discover a religion she can connect to? And will she finally adjust to her new surroundings? Well, it’s certainly a joy to find those answers.

It’s easy to walk into a film like this and think it’s not for you. And yet, I was fully engaged in the humor and heart of it all. The big-screen adaptation of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is delightful. It’s fast, fun, and surprisingly engaging for audiences of all ages. Kelly Fremon Craig is brilliant at creating stories far more universal than one might expect. She did wonders with the excellent The Edge of Seventeen. And while Margaret takes on a slightly younger leading character, the filmmaker never skimps on writing great supporting ones. The care that she has taken with the source material is especially notable.

It also helps that Abby Ryder Fortson is fantastic in the leading role. The young actress brings such warmth to Margaret. As Hailee Steinfeld did in The Edge of Seventeen, Abby brings honesty to her performance. The young actress is a major talent, and watching her opposite Bates and McAdams, it’s clear that she will be following in a few impressive footsteps. If you can connect to Margaret, the film works. And thankfully, she conveys all the heartbreak and happiness of a preteen girl searching for herself. It’s an excellent performance that is made stronger by the lovely script by Craig.

In addition to the film’s star, the supporting cast is equally enjoyable. Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie are stellar as Margaret’s loving but flawed parents. As well, Kathy Bates shines as a grandmother who adores her granddaughter. The two share moments together that are effortlessly sweet. Even Margaret’s friends, played by Elle Graham and Amari Alexis Price, get a chance to shine. When a script treats every character involved with respect and care, it creates an accessible and entertaining experience. If you are going to bring author Judy Blume to the big screen, well, this is how you do it.

It would help if you never judged a book by its cover. At least regarding the terrific new feature, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Kelly Fremon Craig is one of the brightest up-and-coming directors out there. The filmmaker has created heartfelt and honest portraits of young women with both this and The Edge of Seventeen. And building solid and vibrant stories like this that can connect to audiences all across the board is an incredible skill. For those of you that were obsessed with Judy Blume’s work, you are in for a treat. What about if you have yet to learn who Blume is? It doesn’t matter. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is one of the funniest and most charming summer films this year.


Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/are-you-there-god-its-me-margaret-review/

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