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MOVIE REVIEW:Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
I actually rented this for my cousin, who's a huge fan of the American
Girl line. Having thoroughly loved "Samantha", "Felicity" and to some
degree "Molly" it was with great anticipation that we all sat down to
enjoy "Kit". About twenty minutes in I saw some rolling eyes and yawns.
It's not that this movie was bad, but for a theatrical release it's
rather pallid. There isn't a lot of movement and the story isn't all
that interesting. It feels rather like Saturday morning cartoons to me.
I'm not the target audience here, but my cousin and her friends are,
they were rather bored. Sorry to say.
Abigail Breslin did a splendid job at Kit, no complaints there, she was
charming, smart and strong. The supporting players were good, though
the always terrific Jane Krakowski didn't get enough to do, her amorous
dancer deserved more screen time. Kit's friends were okay, a bit
generic. This seemed cut from the same cloth as the misbegotten "Nancy
Drew" with Emma Roberts. No fault of Emma, but that movie, though
having an excellent story, suffered from a poor approach that turned a
plucky heroine into an nerd! Kit's no nerd, but she's stuck in a nerds
This was a real shame because the American Girl series provides young
women with good role models and strong moral messages. That doesn't
mean the movie had to be so dull!! Originally "Kristen" was set for the
big screen and perhaps her pioneer story would have played better.
"Kit" is just not that memorable.
A vastly under-rated, marvelous film with Abigail Breslin proving that
she will be a quite a star as the years go on.
Set in May, 1934 in depression era Cincinnati, the film wonderfully
captures the depression period and its effects on the inhabitants of
the city. We see people losing their jobs and being evicted from their
homes during the day. We see families torn apart as fathers had to
leave to find work anywhere. Many never wrote or came back.
With all this, we find Kit, whose family is eventually victimized by
the economic collapse. This precocious child wants to be a reporter and
goes out to view the residents of tents outside of the city. Was
surprised that they didn't use the historical name for these areas-
This is a great picture capturing depression era Americana. The story
then turns into a stealing caper and as usual, the hobos are blamed
until Kit and her brood of friends prove otherwise. They didn't even
need Jessica Fletcher to prove that which was not so obvious.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Kit Kittredge is a 10 year old aspiring journalist who lives in an
upper middle-class suburb of Cincinnati in 1934. Through a family
connection, she boldly calls upon the publisher of a major Cincinnati
newspaper and asks him to publish an article she's written. Somehow I
was thinking that it might have been more interesting if the plot had
gone in a different direction from the beginning. Instead of being
turned down and not getting her article published until the movie is
just about over (and that's the way the plot actually plays out), it
might have been more interesting if somehow Kit enlists an adult to get
herself published and then her articles become a sensation. Kit becomes
a young "Cyrano" with her adult friend (perhaps the 19 year old gopher
who Kit was put in contact with by her brother at the beginning of the
film) attempts to keep the ruse going, with the publisher and the
co-workers at the newspaper in the dark until the film's climax. In my
'alternative' scenario, Kit is found out at the end and 'exposed'; she
falls from grace but is redeemed after her final article exposes a team
of con men who have been preying upon the good members of the
As it turns out, The Kittredge 'First Act' is replete with politically
correct, anachronistic ideas. The 'hobos' are nothing more than a
stand-in for today's immigrants while the kids whose families are lucky
enough to escape the ravages of the Depression, mouth platitudes in
school about the hobos not working and getting "government handouts".
The rich kids are equated with the conservative, right-wing Republicans
The film's second act begins when Kit's father loses his car dealership
(it's interesting that he was still able to have a thriving business as
late as 1934!). The father decides to pack his bags and go to Chicago
to find new employment. Kit's mother is forced to take in boarders much
to Kit's chagrin. Here's where the film really starts dragging. Instead
of introducing the antagonist, the plot focuses on introducing us to
the collection of oddball characters who inhabit the boarding house.
The machinations of these characters are supposed to be amusing but
they are merely foolish (there are one too many scenes with Miss Bond,
the mobile librarian, crashing her truck in the front yard along with
the undeveloped character Miss Dooley who happens to be a dancer of
sorts). Then there's Mr. Berk, played by Stanley Tucci, who wows the
kids with his magic tricks (another scene that did not have to go on as
long as it did).
In addition to the boarders, Kit meets two Hobo children, Will and
Countee and decides to investigate the Hobo 'way of life'. Implausibly,
Kit's mother allows her to go to a hobo camp to do some 'research' for
one of her articles, but wouldn't you know it the hobos are a bunch of
wonderful people (despite police reports of many robberies committed by
various members of their group). Much too late in the story, the Hobo
children are accused of stealing all the boarders' valuables which
Kit's mother had placed in what she believed to be a 'safe place'.
By Act III, we've finally discovered that Mr. Berk, the magician, his
associate and Miss Bond are a bunch of con artists who have been
victimizing poor boarding house denizens all over the city. Since they
are a bunch of clumsy fools (buffoons), Kit easily figures out (with
the assistance of her young buddies) that they're the one's who framed
poor Will; he's soon exonerated and the police now arrest the magician
and his buddy after they are exposed by Kit and company.
The denouement is unsatisfying as well. Kit's father returns from
Chicago and inexplicably hasn't been able to find one job there. So he
reassures Kit that he intends to remain in Cincinnati (despite the fact
that there is still no work for him there). Finally, the newspaper
publisher arrives and announces that he's published Kit's first
article. Instead of becoming an exciting muckraker from the beginning,
Kit's new found fame comes a little too late in the storyline.
Unfortunately, little Abigail Breslin is once again used by adults for
nefarious purposes. In the insufferable "Little Miss Sunshine", she
ends up dancing in a sexually suggestive way at the end of the movie
(it's supposed to be "cute" but in reality is a cynical attempt by the
films' scenarists to promote an elitist agendamodern day beatniks
trumping beauty pageant snobs). Here little Abigail is also used to
promote another modern-day form of elitism: the victims of today's
economic woes get their shots in at today's fat cats (no doubt
Corporate Executive types who get big bonuses). At least here the
'anything goes' philosophy of 'Little Miss Sunshine' is no longer
operative but little Abigail once again comes off as overly pushy and
aggressive(and certainly not 'cute').
In the end, 'Kittredge' patronizes both adults and children alike. The
film's scenarists were afraid to expose children to a dose of reality.
The Depression here is reduced to a Hallmark Greeting Card with
villains who are buffoons and heroes who can do no wrong. What it
needed to be was another 'Wizard of Oz' with a wicked witch antagonist
who is actually scary and evil and protagonists (such as Dorothy and
her buddies) who have real-life, honest-to-goodness, human foibles.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If I were a young girl I would have loved this. being a middle aged guy
I liked it.
Its a sweet little movie about Kit who wants to be a reporter and the
Depression era troubles and the mystery of a stolen lock box. For give
the lack of details but it was too sweet for me and while I cared
enough to leave it on to let it play to the end I was more into
wrapping Christmas presents.
Recommended for any girl/woman reading this who is still 10 years old
6 out of 10 for old guys like me. 8 Out of 10 for anyone who's a ten
year old girl at heart
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