Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.

I enjoyed Judy Bloom as a young reader, but, honestly, I do not think that I ever read Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret (at least I do not remember reading it.) I was aware of it, but I was more of a Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing kind of guy. Still, I was curious to see the film adaptation of the classic book.

Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Fortson) was a pre-teen during 1970 when her parents Barbara and Herb (Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie) moved her out of New York City and to New Jersey, away from her beloved grandma Sylvia (Kathy Bates). Having to start at a new school, Margaret has to face questions about religion, adolescence and the arrival of her period.

I liked most of this movie. Abby Ryder Fortson was extremely charming and likable as Margaret and you can never go wrong with Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates.

In my opinion, there was a standout child actor here too. Her name was Elle Graham and she played Margaret’s friend Nancy. I’ll talk about her later.

The film was unafraid to broach subjects such as menstruation, relationships and religion honestly and with amazing forthrightness. I would absolutely recommend that any young teen or pre-teen girl watch this movie with their parents because I can only imagine that it would not fail to spark some conversations that would be vital for them.

There were many humorous moments, but the film never felt the need to take it too over-the-top with the comedy like many of these genre of films do. It mines humor from such topics like buying sanitary pads for the first time at a drug store or playing Spin the Bottle with your classmates. These all feel very real and relatable.

Kelly Fremon Craig directed this movie. She had an outstanding film already in this coming of age genre on her resume in Edge of Seventeen. She clearly has a strength in displaying this type of film.

However, I had a huge problem with the ending of the movie. It may be the same in the book, but I do not know. There were several plot lines that felt dropped or rushed or that just did not pay off in the end. Specifically, one that involved Nancy.

As I mentioned earlier, I was impressed with Elle Graham’s performance as the somewhat snooty leader of the secret club that she formed with Margaret and two other friend (Amari Alexis Price as Janie and Katherine Mallen Kupferer as Gretchen). Nancy had some negative traits, but after a sensational scene in the bathroom, we got to see her raw and vulnerable, but the film completely dropped this part of the story. Margaret was mad at her because of a lie, but I felt so sorry for Nancy that it felt cruel to just never give them any sort of resolution.

That was not the only point that felt like it was either dropped or rushed wither. There was a whole ending bit with Margaret’s teacher (Echo Kellum) that seemed to flip quickly because of the time of the movie.

These third act decisions may be straight out of the book, but, either way, these choices, for me, tainted a movie that I was really enjoying up to this point.

Yet, I do believe that this is a film that would be enjoyed by most, and might be a valuable watch to young girls. The positives of Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret outweigh the weakness of the story elements in the third act.

3.2 stars

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