KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Abigail Breslin,
Julia Ormond, Chris O’Donnell, Glenne Headly, Jane Krakowski, Stanley Tucci,
Wallace Shawn, Joan Cusack
Director: Patricia Rozema
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: New Line Cinema
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: October 28, 2008
“You promised we’d be okay…we’re not okay if we’re not together!”
Movies based on toys used to automatically carry a black mark…but then Michael Bay scored a huge blockbuster success with Transformers. Now, we have Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, based on one of a series of dolls.
There are no warring robots in this G-rated family film, but it does have one of the most amazing young actresses working today in the Oscar nominated Abigail Breslin. She’s such a natural and a joy to watch, her very performance in the title role elevated my view of the whole movie, which played out like an extended episode of The Waltons.
She indeed plays Kit, a ten year old girl with dreams of being a reporter while living in the outbreak of the Great Depression. At first, her and her mother (Ormond) and father (O’Donnell) seem to be keeping their heads above water, while one by one her friends and friends’ families are falling victim to the economic crisis, losing their homes, their means, and their dignity. It won’t be long before Kit and her family are joining them.
As her father leaves their hometown of Cincinnati to look for work, her mother begins to take in boarders to make ends meet. The colorful array of characters include a pair of young but smart hobos who show Kit and friends a few things about life on the wrong side of the tracks, a traveling magician, a mobile librarian, and an amorous young dance instructor, to name a few.
But when crimes start occurring, the blame falls on the young hobos, and it ends up in Kit’s capable hands to prove their innocence. It follows the exact lines you’d expect from such a story, and all’s well that ends well, but considering it’s pure G-rated entertainment, there’s not a lot to complain about, other than this movie like so many others misinterprets Robin Hood…he didn’t steal from the rich and give to the poor; he stole from the governments that had taken the money from the people and returned it to them.
Why quibble? Kit Kittredge is decent entertainment, with a few laughs, a few tears, and a joyful, buoyant cast led by young Ms. Breslin, who has proven herself more than capable of carrying a movie, even when surrounded by stalwart supporters. I know nothing of the American Girl series, but I will say Abigail Breslin is an absolute doll, and she makes an average movie something of an better-than-normal experience.
This is a beautiful high definition transfer from New Line…the subject matter doesn’t make many demands of Blu-ray, but it still looks quite vivid, colorful and bright all the way through. The sunny scenery looks very natural and well-detailed.
The 5.1 soundtrack is good, particularly with the use of period songs, but apart from that, it’s a mostly non-demanding dialogue-driven track that handles spoken words and minimal amounts of dynamic range admirably.
The only extras are three commercials for other American Girl videos.
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is a nice family film made special by the wonderful performance from Abigail Breslin in the lead. It’s pleasant and harmless, and a rare worthy G-rated modern offering.