July 2, 2008

Review: Kit Kittredge - An American Girl

Way back in the 70s the role model options for little girls like me who hated Barbie and played outside all day were quite limited. But I remember learning about the depression through the musical Annie. I remember Hooverville and the cheery optimism of Annie singing Tomorrow (which I belted out all day long.) Annie was our Kit Kittredge. Today, girls are inundated with many choices -- too many -- and I imagine that as a parent (which I'm not) it's probably a breath of fresh air to give your daughter (if have $100) an American Girl doll to play with rather than a Barbie (which coincidentally happens to be made by the same company -- Mattel.)

I saw Kit Kittredge at a screening where the girls in the audience were breathless with excitement. They were just too cute sitting down in the front row talking to the screen like they were seeing their friends, so cute that even the curmudgeon reviewers in the room cracked a smile. The film is adorable, really how can I have a problem where the opening montage includes photos of Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt who reside on the bulletin board in Kit's treehouse. What I loved about Kit is that she is the girl in charge. You hardly ever see girls so strong and confident. There is no doubt that she is the leader and her group of friends (boys and girls) looks to her for all decisions. While she's dealt some serious blows throughout the film -- her dad loses his business and is forced to leave town for a job, her family takes in boarders to help pay the rent -- she still soldiers on with her desire to be a reporter. I mean what 9-year-old knows what she wants to do and has enough moxie to show up at a major city newspaper and demand that the editor read her story. Her confidence in herself is infectious whether you are 9, 49, or 69.

A.O. Scott wrote in the NY Times this weekend about taking his daughter and her friends clutching their dolls to see the film. It seems that girls across the country are bringing their dolls with them. Cute. But let's put a little perspective on this. A month ago women were vilified as materialistic and stupid for wearing their Manolo Blanick's to see Sex and the City. One month later it adorable and empowering that girls are bringing their dolls with them to the movies. It just says to me that we love our girls like Kit to be strong, smart and bold (like Girls Inc. says) but not our women.

Kit Kittredge is a film that boys and girls should see and honestly, any parent who lets their son see something else because it's a "girls movie" is just plain wrong. Boys need to see girls in strong roles even more than girls do. I hope that we will see lots of dads and their daughters -- maybe it will spawn a take your daughter to a movie day.

This creative team on this film is infused with women power. Kudos to Patricia Rozema, the Canadian director who respected the kid actors and was also to get great performances from the adults who include Chris O'Donnell, Julia Ormand, Stanley Tucci, and the great comedian Joan Cusack. The film is produced by Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Lisa Gillan who runs Julia Roberts film company (Julia is an executive producer). It is written by Ann Peacock based from the stories by Valerie Tripp.

film opens across the country today on 1800. It will really need support to compete against Hancock and the other big summer films.
photo: Cylla von Tiedeman