Hey readers! I’m back with your Friday Film Forecast. This week I’ll be talking about Kelly Fremon Craig’s 2023 film “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.”
I went to this movie on a whim with my sibling after realizing we missed the showing of the movie we had originally planned to see. At first, I was rather worried it would end up being a particularly preachy movie, which I am not a fan of. But, surprisingly, it was quite the opposite.
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” is an adaptation of Judy Blume’s 1970 novel. The story is about 11-year-old Margaret’s transition to her new life in the suburbs of New Jersey and her adjustment to adolescence.
Margaret’s parents come from highly religious backgrounds, one Jewish and one Christian. But they both dealt with overbearing — and for the mom, unaccepting — parents that opened their eyes to the damage forced religion has on kids.
Their goal for Margaret is to let her decide what she wants to believe in with zero influence from either parent. But, with a school research project approaching, Margaret is curious about religion and what it means to her.
While Margaret explores both her parents’ upbringings and a classmate’s in Catholicism, she finds herself doubting and denying the existence of a god at all. Yet, she still “prays” to a god each night.
The movie was a perfect representation of growing up as a girl and discovering that our bodies were going to change. It takes serious conversations — kissing, periods, religion, bullying and overall body changes — and handles them with light humor that makes you reminiscent of the early days of puberty.
Margaret and her three friends, Nancy, Jane and Gretchen, start a secret club where they talk about crushes and puberty. The other big pubescent topics of conversation: periods and boobs. The four spend days using fake tricks to grow boobs faster and practicing how to use pads.
The hysterical dialogue of them all betting and impatiently waiting to start developing was all too relatable for my once 11-year-old self. After every club meeting, Margaret is found begging a god (whoever that may be to her) to let her grow boobs before her friends and start her period before the 7th grade.
The innocence of this film was extremely comforting and a breath of fresh air after midterms and the exhaustion of everyday life.
In addition to Margaret's humorous conversations with “God” and her friends, her parents offer an extremely engaging plot line.
Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie (I have a personal soft spot for him and his brother after 2019’s Uncut Gems) play the two loveable and goofy parents, Barbara and Herb. Barbara is an art teacher adjusting to stay-at-home PTA life and Herb is a working dad whose promotion brought them to their new life in the suburbs.
While the couple has a few arguments here and there, the writing offers a masterclass on how to communicate anger in a healthy way. The parents’ dynamic with each other and with Margaret leaves the audience wishing they had the two for parents and shines a positive message on communication for current and future parents.
A big compliment I’ll give the movie is Margaret's acting. I am known for detesting child actors – it’s not their fault (they're usually inexperienced and overdramatized) but nonetheless, I’m not a fan most of the time. That said, Abby Ryder Fortson’s portrayal of Margaret was pretty outstanding and proved me wrong.
In addition to Fortson, Kathy Bates was a notable acting mention. She plays Margaret’s emotionally manipulative but extremely loving grandma, Sylvia. Abandoned in the city by the move of Margaret and her parents, she is left to call and try to guilt trip them into moving back.
While the tactics she uses are manipulative, they’re also quite funny as an audience member and make it clear she would do anything for Margaret and her parents.
Overall, this film stands by its critic’s rating of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. It offered a lot of laughs and a lot of tears. The dialogue was smooth and coherent, the acting was fabulous, the plot was heartfelt and hilarious and the overall coming-of-age genre was presented perfectly in the film.
With a bonus mention of McAdams’ killer outfits and exceptional hair, this week's film forecast calls for a sunny rating of five stars.
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” is currently in theaters.
Elaina Johnson (she/her) is a fourth-year political science major who has previously copy edited and been editor-in-chief for The Front. This quarter she is the opinions and outreach editor. She hopes to make engaging stories this quarter and reconnect with the community through various outreach. In her free time outside of The Front, she can be found watching movies, writing chaotic Letterboxd reviews and drinking oat milk chai. She can be reached at email@example.com.