Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is based on the beloved children’s book by Judy Blume. The film was directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, who also wrote the screenplay with Judy Blume’s blessing.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is set in the 1960s. Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) is 11, ready to go into 6th grade, when her parents (Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie) tell her they are moving from their New York apartment to the suburbs of New Jersey.
Margaret feels unsure about the move. She’ll miss her grandmother (Kathy Bates) and she worries about finding friends and liking the school.
Her first day in her new home she meets the brash and outgoing Nancy (Elle Graham) who invites her to join her secret club and introduces her to a whole set of ready-made friends.
Margaret also meets Moose (Aidan Wojtak-Hissong), a neighborhood boy who is friends with Nancy’s annoying brother. Moose is cute in Margaret’s eyes. It’s instant first crush for our heroine.
Margaret and her new friends are in a hurry to grow up. They want their periods and they want a chest big enough to need a bra. A good bit of what these girls are up to involves their hopeful dreams about what growing up will be all about. (If they only knew . . . )
Margaret talks to God. She’s interested in religion. He father is Jewish, her mother is Christian. She decides to write about religion for her 6th grade research project. She researches by going to temple with her grandmother from New York City. She attends a couple of Christian churches and makes a visit to a Catholic confessional.
Margaret’s never met her grandparents on her mother’s side because they disowned her mom when she married a Jewish man. When Margaret’s mother tries to reconcile with her parents it turns into a religious war between the two sets of grandparents. This does not help Margaret find a good answer to her questions about religion, but she still continues to talk to God when she’s alone.
All these threads of story combine to make Margaret a great character. She manages to resist peer pressure and be herself. Abby Ryder Fortson does a wonderful job with the part. Elle Graham as Nancy is also particularly good. These characters will reach the young people who watch the film. It speaks their language. Back in the day when I was teaching elementary school, kids loved this book and the heart of it still lives in the movie.
The costuming, the setting, the feel of the film was perfect 1960s. I remember growing up in those years. Yes, we really did bust development exercises.
Youngsters who watch this won’t care about the adult characters much, but I really enjoyed seeing Kathy Bates as the carefully coiffed and put together Jewish grandmother. I also enjoyed Rachel McAdams playing a suburban mom.
I watched the movie on a long airplane flight. It’s also streaming on Prime Video and Apple TV+ as well as a few other on demand sources. You might have to pay a rental fee at this point, but it should reach part of the subscription level eventually.