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  • Writer's pictureDenise Breen

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

4.5 out of 5

I came away from watching the big-screen adaptation of “ Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” a sweet, playful and reverential adaptation of Judy Blume’s famed coming-of-age novel about the everyday problems of an 11-year-old girl and thought - that was lovely. I laughed, giggled and shared the titular Margaret's trials and tribulations of growing up, moving home, starting a new school and dealing with her changing body.

Abby Ryder Fortson (from Ant-Man) stars as Margaret Simon, with Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie playing her parents. Kathy Bates also appears as her grandmother in a story that writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig chose to keep in 1970s as per the original book, rather than update it for the 2023 crowd. All the highlights from the book are there including the famous "We must, we must, we must increase our bust" mantra and her famous prayers are present.

In one scene, Margaret, who has not yet started menstruating, decides to get ready for it by buying some pads at the convenience store with her friend Janie (Amari Alexis Price). They fervently hope that the check-out person is a woman. The two girls watch in horror as an older woman at the checkout counter leaves for a break right as they approach and is replaced with a shaggy-haired teenage boy. In a panic, Margaret throws a pack of mints on the boxes. Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig relishes in the excruciating awkwardness, letting time slow down as the conveyer belt screeches along.

It’s one of many lovely moments that evoke the strangeness of being eleven. Not only are you dealing with the normal pains of everyday existence and coming to terms with the fact that your parents just might be people too — you and all of your classmates are morphing at wildly different and confusing rates. In one of the too-few shots illustrating Margaret’s literal point of view, the camera moves in to gaze at the armpit hair of a local boy, Moose.

Fortson delivers a natural performance as Margaret, tinged with curiosity and innocence, that authentically delivers the good-natured humour and deeply felt emotions that colour her journey.

Set in the 1970s, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" captures the nostalgia of the era, complete with Rachel McAdam's feathered Farrah Fawcett hair, TV dinners, fluorescent folding lawn chairs and shag carpets, but they all serve the movie's themes, which are timeless.

Kathy Bates effortlessly navigates this role and Rachel Mc Adams gives what is probably her best performance ever. Yes, it's that good.

Films like these barely exist anymore, and certainly not in theatres. Tween girls would do well to seek “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” out. So too could their brothers...and their parents. It has all the makings of a classic for the next generation.

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