The Reel Review
11-year-old Margaret learns how to navigate new friends, puberty and her religious identity after her parents uproot her from 1970s New York City to the New Jersey suburbs. This coming-of-age story starring Abby Ryder Fortson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates is based on Judy Blume’s iconic and beloved 1970 children’s novel.
Wow, what a really sweet, charming and insightful coming-of-age story. The 1970s setting is spot on, with an authentic, engaging performance from Fortson (A Dog’s Journey, Ant-Man and the Wasp) as Margaret. McAdams also is a standout in a career-defining performance as Margaret’s mother, traumatized by the more than a decade-long rejection by her Christian parents over her marrying a Jew. Kathy Bates is Margaret’s Jewish grandma, with Uncut Gems co-writer/director Benny Safdie, her father.
Writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen) deviates only enough from Blume’s outstanding source material to give McAdams an opportunity to also truly shine with an added layer to Margaret’s story. From pre-teen girl anxiety and anticipation about growing breasts and getting their periods, to those nostalgic adolescent games of ‘Spin the Bottle’ and ‘Two Minutes in Heaven,’ Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is an endearing love letter to those awkward moments of adolescence and the satisfaction of learning to think for oneself – a picture-perfect adaptation of a classic.
• The novel from Judy Blume, who has a cameo in the film, has been one of the most challenged and banned books in the U.S. due to its candid discussion about religious choice, puberty and menstruation, which apparently frightens closed-minded people.
• Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig says she wrote Judy Blume an impassioned letter then flew with producer James L. Brooks (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News) to Key West, Florida to implore Blume to allow the adaptation of her classic children’s novel, which she says was a formative North Star for her as a young girl, and a guiding force in her career as a storyteller.
• Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina and New York City.