Reviewed by: Dymphna Meeds
|1 hr. 41 min.
|Year of Release:
June 20, 2008 (NYC, LA, CHI, ATL, Dallas)
July 2, 2008 (wide)
POVERTY—What does the Bible say about the poor? Answer
Fear, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer
What should we thank God for, and how should we praise Him? Answer
THANKSGIVING DAY—Why do Americans celebrate it? Answer
What is the origin of America's annual Thanksgiving Day? Answer
THANKSGIVING—Tips for New and Growing Christians—GO
Are you thankful to God? GO
Joan Cusack, Julia Ormond, Max Thieriot, Chris O'Donnell, Stanley Tucci, Jane Krakowski, Wallace Shawn, Glenne Headly, Willow Smith, Zach Mills, Madison Davenport, Austin Macdonald, Darryn Lucio, Dylan Roberts, Douglas Nyback, Martin Doyle, Dylan Smith, Jordan Rackley, Erin Hilgartner, Brieanne Jansen, Joanna Swan, Colette Kendall, Elisabeth Perez
|Ellen L. Brothers, Lisa Roberts Gillan, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Terry Gould, Julia Roberts, Marisa Yeres
|New Line Cinema, division of Warner Bros. Pictures
“Movie based on the American Girl® series Kit Kittredge.”
The Great Depression was a tough time. For everyone! Children and adults, hobos and car dealers, bankers and dance teachers. Sometimes we forget, with all the luxury around us, what it is like to work hard and how to succeed. One only needs to look at those who survived the 1930s. “Kit Kitterdge: An American Girl” shows us what life was back in the middle of The Great Depression.
Kit (Abigail Breslin), a spunky adolescent who lives in Cincinnati, loves to write stories on her typewriter. Any day now, the Cincinnati Register is going to buy one of her stories! Or so Kit believes. Trouble-free, she plays the days away with her friends Ruthie (Madison Davenport) and Francis (Brieanne Jansen), until that one fateful day.
Suddenly Kit’s world is turned upside-down. First of all, the bank throws Francis’s family out of their house, since they can’t pay the rent. For the first time, Kit has a twinge of fear for what might happen to her family. However, everything seems fine until Mr. Kitterdge (Chris O'Donnell) loses his job and leaves for Chicago in search of work. To earn more money, Mrs. Kitterdge (Julia Ormond) opens up their house to boarders. It turns out to be a crazy (and rather dangerous) learning experience for all of them!
From an enjoyment point of view: This movie was very cute, although rather predictable. Some of the acting was marvelous, especially Max Thieriot, Abigail Breslin, Julia Ormond, Chris O'Donnell, Wallace Shawn, and Joan Cusack. The rest was a little shaky. Filming, costumes, location, and music were all perfect! However, if you’re not into sweet, girly movies, this might not be the right movie for you.
The main theme throughout this movie is family. You especially see this with Kit’s mother and father. Numerous times, her father stands by her and comforts her or plays with her. Kit’s mother supports Kit and stands up for her, even when things grow tough. Throughout the whole movie, Mrs. Kitterdge only loses her temper once and very mildly at that. On the other hand, they don’t just pacify Kit with whatever she wants and let her get away with everything. When Kit complains about a classmate, her mother tells her to be kind in return, and that he isn’t all bad. Although Mr. Kitterdge hides things from his family, he also learns how to trust and love them. And Kit’s parents also are wonderful role models for her.
The next example of a loving family is the hobos Will Shepherd (Max Thieriot) and Countee (Willow Smith). Since he was orphaned a few years ago, Countee is always in the loving care of Will. And, better yet, Will thinks of it as a blessing. “Every day I thank the good Lord for this little fellow,” he says, and he certainly treats him like that, too.
Lastly, Stirling Howard (Zach Mills) and his mother (Glenne Headly) exhibit the pain in a broken family. Mr. Howard left for New York to find work and has now deserted their family. From the hurt in both wife and child, you can see the pain in a shattered home.
The second most important theme in the movie is not to judge people or have prejudice. Kit is sure that the hobos are not all bad and that Will certainly isn’t. Although she understand hobos (like everyone else) can do bad things, Kit believes that they deserve the same treatment and respect. As she puts it, “There are good and bad hobos, just like there are good and bad apples!” And the sad thing is the treatment given the hobos is what really happened. Will is afraid to report that he had been attacked, because he is a hobo and knows the police won’t listen. That is not to say that this movie puts down the police or rich people in any way. It just shows us that everyone is a person and should be treated with respect.
Another way Kit and Ruthie learn is through Stirling. At first, they look at how his mom treats him and think he’s a sissy. Later they learn what a wonderful person and friend he really is.
There are also two very major secondary messages. The first is about justice and truth. Kit is resolved to discover who is behind the crimes, instead of just blaming it on the easiest and most susceptible people. Even when everyone else gives up, she remains positive that Will is not a thief and is willing to put herself in danger to help him. This is still very relevant in our day-to-day lives. We must not “say what people want to hear,” as a reporter named Billy (Douglas Nyback) tells Kit; we must fight for the truth and live it out in our lives. Kit knew what Billy said was wrong and so should we!
The second one is generosity. This virtue is found throughout the movie, starting with Mrs. Kitterdge and ultimately ending with the hobos. Kit helps out at a soup kitchen, and another boy who complains about it is reprimanded. We see how the hobos share everything they have with each other, and how the Kitterdges open up their home to others—even those many dislike.
When Kit first begins having to work hard and has to share the house, she complains. However, by the end of the movie, she is cheerful about her work and realizes that others are worse off than her. One of the villains realizes the errors of his/her ways and ends up helping the children. Although they, too, go to jail, we know that they had a sincere change of heart.
Violence is very minor in this movie. In fact, the chase scene between Kit, her friends, and the criminals is one of the comic parts of the movie. The most violent part is when a criminal is hit on the head with the back of a shovel, and even that is very tastefully done. A robber trips over a log, Kit climbs out onto a tree limb, the librarian Mrs. Bond (Joan Cusack) crashes into cans and fences with her car, Stirling faints, dancer Miss Dooley (Jane Krakowski) almost kicks Mrs. Kitteredge, and someone’s wallet is stolen. However, these are all very much nonviolent.
The scariest parts in the movie are when Kit searches the robbers’ room, stowsaway in their car, and when she is trying to hide from them. However, even these are not very tense.
Kit does yell sometimes and is sometimes naughty. However, she is usually punished and scolded for it and learns how not to act. Overall, she is a pretty good kid. Ruthie and Stirling disobey the librarian. And Stirling writes a fake letter to his mother from “her husband.”
Several names are called, the worst being moron. However, there is no swearing or “Oh my Go*”s. A reporter mocks his boss. Robin Hood like behavior is thought of as good.
Some people may be concerned about the overprotective mother, and the way she is portrayed. Also, Miss Dooley wants a husband and likes to flirt with men. She also puts a letter down her dress and talks about keeping valuables in her unmentionables. And the magician makes a veiled sexual reference.
Kit and her friends have a secret ritual that they do to join into her club. In it they use “sacred water” and swear not to tell anyone about themselves. Later on, Mr. Kitterdge swears in the same fashion that he will come back home. And the magician levitates a woman. *SPOILER WARNING* We later learn that it was just a trick. *SPOILER END*
Overall, this is a sweet, funny, and at times heart-wrenching movie. Very clean and enjoyable, young girls will love it. However, I don’t think it would keep many boys attention for long!
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.