Starring Rachel McAdams and Abby-Ryder Forston, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is a wholesome adaptation of Judy Blume’s 1970 classic.
For generations, Judy Blume’s middle-grade novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret has been a staple in teaching adolescent girls the normalcy of menstruation, trying to fit in, and even questioning life. So without a doubt, Kelly Fremon Craig’s adaptation upholds the coming-of-age standards set in Blume’s work. And it does so without overly modernizing the story or tampering with the details that have made it such a beloved read for the last five decades.
Craig’s directorial debut, Edge of Seventeen, was the perfect stepping stone leading to this story about the anxiety-inducing affairs of being a sixth grader transitioning from city life to the suburbs. Abby-Ryder Fortson (Cassie from the first two Ant-Man movies) stars as Margaret Simon, and does exceptionally well embodying the awkwardness of a preteen.
Additionally, Rachel McAdams tackles the role of Margaret’s mom, Barbara, and has a more prominent position than in the book. Their healthy mother-daughter relationship is refreshing, and the added depth to Barbara’s character gives proper insight to Margaret’s struggle with choosing her religion and even how she feels comfort in her individualism. Also, McAdams deserves a nod for going from THE mean girl to attentive, delightful homemaker.
“Don’t let New Jersey be too horrible.”
One relationship that remains consistent with the novel is Margaret’s closeness with her paternal grandmother, Sylvia (Kathy Bates). Their bond is pertinent to Margaret’s growth and personality, so it was great being able to see it done so well on screen. Bates steals just about every scene as Grandma Sylvia, as expected. And the fun-loving, fashionably embellished character detailed in the book is perfectly captured, here.
While the story is likely most relatable to Gen X ladies due to the era it was first written, elements concerning puberty, bullying, and the search for spiritual guidance are timeless stressors in every young girl’s life. Plenty of Margaret’s experiences resonate with society today, and even in the places where it doesn’t, audiences should have no problem connecting to Margaret, thanks in large part to Fortson’s winning performance.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret provides invaluable lessons on womanhood that deserve to be treasured, and insight on the core moments of both religious and secular upbringings that contrary factions seldom get to see. And as a bonus, the film’s art direction flawlessly encapsulates Mid-Atlantic, suburban culture in the 1970s. Complemented beautifully by Hans Zimmer’s secret weapon of a composition. For most people, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is a pleasant, casual good time of a film. For young girls, it’s a must-see.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is in theaters now. Watch the trailer here.
Images courtesy of Lionsgate
ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET - 8/10