A Family Film Worth Celebrating?

Roger Ebert is just one of the film critics singing the praises of Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m going to go see a movie based on a dress-up doll for girls. Why? Well, there are the reviews. And then there’s the fact that it was directed by Patricia Rozema, who directed the magnificent, underrated Mansfield Park.

Roger Ebert says:

Considering that it is inspired by one of the dolls in the American Girl product line, “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl” is some kind of a miracle: an actually good movie. I expected so much less. I was waiting for some kind of banal product placement, I suppose, and here is a movie that is just about perfect for its target audience, and more than that. It has a great look, engaging performances, real substance and even a few whispers of political ideas, all surrounding the freshness and charm of Abigail Breslin, who was 11 when it was filmed.

This movie, intelligently and sincerely directed by Patricia Rozema (“Mansfield Park“), does not condescend. It does not cheapen or go for easy laughs. It is as serious about Kit as she is about herself, and doesn’t treat her like some (indignant exclamation) dumb girl. If you have or know or can borrow a girl (or a boy) who collects the American Girl dolls, grab onto that child as your excuse to see this movie. You may enjoy it as much as they do — maybe more, with its period costumes, settings and music.

More reviews from surprised critics are piling up here.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • sanjuro68

    Remind me again: why are the dolls “deplorable”?

  • http://www.campbell.edu/coas/english/index.html elrambo

    I remain skeptical, because I still think the movie is bound to promote the deplorable dolls. Nevertheless, I’ll just say that the last time something like this happened–a product-based movie turning out surprisingly better than the original product–may have been the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Now that was fun.

  • http://cinexcellence.com striderdemme

    Hmm. That’s interesting.

  • http://imagesflicker.blogspot.com/ mayrock

    Morgenstern at WSJ really liked ‘Kittredge’ as well:


    The clip of the film in the article looks good. To be honest, I haven’t had much inclination to see anything as of yet, in the summer crop of movies. This is one that may drag me into the theater.

  • nathanshorb

    But be wary; Roger Ebert seems to be a bit off his game lately, giving positive reviews to The Happening and The Zohan, and being more than generous to a few select others.

    On the bright side, he isn’t praising The Love Guru.