Friday, June 20, 2008

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

“Don’t let it beat you.”

The American Girl series focuses on young fictional heroines centered in and around important historical events. The Mattel dolls have spawned books, magazines, and countless accessories, and now a major motion picture.

Abigail Breslin stars as the precocious Margaret Mildred “Kit” Kittredge, an aspiring pre-adolescent reporter in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the Great Depression. Kit’s life, and those of her firends and neighbors are turned upside down due to the Depression which causes her father (Chris O’Donnell) to seek employment in Chicago and her mother (Julia Ormond) to take in boarders (who include Joan Cusack, Stanley Tucci, Glenne Headly, and Jane Krakowski) to make ends meet.

Kit takes most of this in stride and attempts to use her new experience to become a real reporter and get her first story in print, if she can just get her work past that persnickety editor (Wallace Shawn).

There are subplots throughout the film including Kit’s run-ins with other children at school, the lives of the local hobos including her new friends Will (Max Thieriot) and Countee (Willow Smith), and a mystery which, in true Nancy Drew fashion, only Kit is able to solve. The film is at it’s best however when it focuses on how everyday life, and Kit’s opinions and preconceptions, change throughout the film.

The Diagnosis
Okay, so it’s not a great film, but for a G-Rated film aimed specifically at young girls, and providing a tiny bit of history, it works. Most of the credit goes to Breslin infusing the character with an intelligence and spirit without which the entire enterprise could have been a dreadful bore. If you’ve got young daughters or granddaughters you might want to give Kit Kittredge a chance.

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