Andrea’s Angle | “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” – Beautifully Endearing
I grew up with Judy Blume in the seventies. I especially remember reading this book among others, and the scenes from it provided me with a connection at a time I needed it, during puberty. What I was most concerned with in watching this movie was whether it could capture the unique quality of Judy Blume’s book, her authenticity, and her ability to connect with her readers. She is a truth-teller, and I wasn’t sure the film could captivate as much as the book. I was wrong. This film is as captivating and beautifully endearing as the novel, every bit as authentic to my experience during puberty and reflecting the spirit and best aspects of the book. The performances are phenomenal.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is a coming-of-age period comedy-drama written for the screen and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and based on the 1970 novel of the same name by Judy Blume. In the film, young Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) comes home from camp to learn that her parents, Herb (Benny Safdie) and Barbara (Rachel McAdams), are moving the family to New Jersey and away from her paternal grandmother Sylvia (Kathy Bates). Margaret has to change schools and make new friends all during age 12. After they move, she meets Nancy Wheeler (Elle Graham), who invites her into her secret club with friends Gretchen and Janie. Her new friends are obsessed with boys, getting breasts, and their periods. Margaret feels far behind her friends. The film details the ups and downs of her experiences as she struggles with religion, her identity, and what it means to grow up. In addition, Echo Kellum portrays Mr. Benedict, while Isol Young, Amari Alexis Price, and Katherine Kupferer appear as Laura, Janie, and Gretchen, respectively.
This is the original coming-of-age story for many women and girls. While others have told similar stories, Judy’s Blumes is timeless. One of the reasons that it is so good is how well it embraces the seventies. It doesn’t try to update or change the story so far from what readers remember. But what it does give us regarding puberty remains timeless. Bras, the changes in our bodies, and what it means to grow up all stay the same even today. And while women who grew up with the book will find it endearing, younger viewers will be able to connect with the story as well. The experiences are so true and authentic to what it means to grow up, and that is part of what makes the film so beautiful and endearing. And the drama of struggling with expectations, both positive and negative, is something most people can understand. Part of the best parts of the drama for Margaret also lies in understanding which friends will support her and how to be the best person she can be.
Another reason it is so great is the humor. The writer has picked all the funniest moments from the books and kept them, including picking out a grower bra or crushing on a boy. While some moments are events that are particular to the seventies, that tends to make them funnier. Part of the funniest scenes are led by Kathy Bates, who plays Sylvia. As she recites dialogue like ”Everything but shave the goat” or bemoans her family moving out of New York City, her performance will incite laughter. And while most of the funniest lines surround Margaret, we get some equally hilarious scenes as Barbara burns a roast or Herb struggles with mowing the lawn. The family is an equal part of the humor in the film. And so much of the humor is based on very real-life experiences most born females endured through the years, including things like spin the bottle or heading to a closet to make out.
The performances are fantastic. Abby Ryder Fortson is perfect as Margaret. She plays the role as warm, awkward, and endearing. She is equal parts sweet, funny, and earnest. There is a lovely dynamic between Rachel McAdams, who plays Barbara, her mother, and Kathy Bates, playing Sylvia, her grandmother. They feel like they’re truly related. Abby Ryder Fortson is phenomenal as she makes the role beautiful and perfect. Rachel McAdams is funny and charming as she portrays a character who learns to embrace boundaries and accept what makes her happy. Kathy Bates is hilarious and charismatic. She gives us a tremendous performance. Benny Safdie is equally skilled and funny as Herb, Margaret’s father. Elle Graham, as Nancy Wheeler, reflected the character from the book epically. And Echo Kellum, who portrays Mr. Benedict with Isol Young, Amari Alexis Price, and Katherine Kupferer also are excellent. Every performance was fantastic.
There is nothing I didn’t love about this film. Call me sentimental, but I found this such a beautiful film full of emotional moments and touching scenes of what it means to be not just a girl in the seventies but what it means to be human, to question our identity, or trying to understand religion and spirituality. Margaret’s search for understanding is reflective of so many, and that is why I feel it connects to more than just women and girls. That search for the truth is in all of us and will touch so many. The movie matched the spirit and the best moments of the book, and that timeless quality makes this such a profound film.
If you love Judy Blume, coming-of-age films, comedy, Kathy Bates, or Rachel McAdams, you will want to see this movie. Every actor is at their best, and the comedic moments are hilarious. The authenticity makes this film endearing, and the honesty of the experiences Margaret has both growing up and with religion will have an impact on audiences. The insight into religion alone will leave you moved. I loved this reflection of my childhood and one of my favorite books, but even if you haven’t read the book, you will fall in love with the movie. I also suggest watching the documentary about Judy Blume, Judy Blume Forever. Before or after, it will give viewers much insight into this movie and its impact.
Rating: 5 out of 5 pads
Official Website: Are You There God Its Me Margaret | Official Website | April 28 2023
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
For over fifty years, Judy Blume’s classic and groundbreaking novel ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET. has impacted generations with its timeless coming of age story, insightful humor, and candid exploration of life’s biggest questions. In Lionsgate’s big-screen adaptation, 11-year-old Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) is uprooted from her life in New York City for the suburbs of New Jersey, going through the messy and tumultuous throes of puberty with new friends in a new school. She relies on her mother, Barbara (Rachel McAdams), who is also struggling to adjust to life outside the big city, and her adoring grandmother, Sylvia (Kathy Bates), who isn’t happy they moved away and likes to remind them every chance she gets. The film also stars Benny Safdie (LICORICE PIZZA, GOOD TIME) and is written for the screen and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig (THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN), based on the book by Judy Blume, and produced by Gracie Films’ Academy Award® winner James L. Brooks (Best Picture, 1983 – TERMS OF ENDEARMENT), alongside Julie Ansell, Richard Sakai, Kelly Fremon Craig, Judy Blume, Amy Lorraine Brooks, Aldric La’auli Porter, and executive produced by Jonathan McCoy.
ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET opens exclusively in theaters on Friday, April 28, 2023.