Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. review by Bobby Blakey
There is no denying that staying power of author Judy Blume’s books that have been connecting with young audiences since the late 60s. Now one of her more popular books, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret is getting the big screen treatment starring Rachel McAdams, Abby Ryder Fortson, Elle Graham, Benny Safdie, and Kathy Bates from The Edge of Seventeen director Kelly Fremon Craig. Could this film do the classic books justice or will it fail to find its faith?
Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. follows Margaret Simon who is just 11 going on 12 when her family moves from New York City to Farbrook, New Jersey. Margaret's mother is Christian and her father is Jewish. Margaret has been raised without an affiliation to either faith, and does not practice an organized religion, although she frequently prays to God in her own words, beginning by saying, "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret." She is beginning to feel uncomfortable with her lack of a religious affiliation. For a school assignment, she chooses to study people's religious beliefs, hoping to resolve the question of her own religion in the process. Part of her study involves attending different places of worship to better understand religious practice and also to see if one of them might be right for her. She enjoys spending time with her Jewish paternal grandmother, Sylvia Simon, who loves her as she is, and hopes Margaret will embrace Judaism after taking her to her synagogue for Rosh Hashanah services.
I never read any of the Judy Blumme books growing up, but remember seeing them around everywhere. Clearly I am not the demographic for this film so wasn’t overly excited to see the film, but walked away pleasantly surprised to
how good this movie really was. There is so much to unpack here and enjoy that was a lot more than I thought I was going to get out of a film like this.
This is not only a young girl coming of age story as she learns to fit in, deal with
puberty and the things that a young woman deals with at this age growing up, but also her faith and what she does and does not believe. Obviously the title implies some sort of religious aspect, but I honestly didn’t expect this conflict playing up into the story and love the further struggle it brings in her life.
They could have easily updated it into the present day, but the fact they kept it in the 70s just made it all the better. The cast are all great, but its young Aby Ryder Fortson as Margaret that steals the show. She is fantastic in this role bringing an awkward innocence to the role that is relatable and a joy to watch throughout. She also has great comedic timing and brings natural laughs to the story as well as handles the more dramatic sides to perfection. The supporting cast around her are all a joy as well with her cast of friends each bringing their respective characters to memorable life.
This is one of those movies that on the surface seems like another kid’s movie, but in reality is so much more. There is depth, heart, laughs and life all fused together dealing with teen struggles both serious and silly. I walked in figuring it might be a good time and left loving it. I highly recommend this film to everyone and hope it fins the audience it deserves.
In addition to the film, this release offers up bonus content including trailer, deleted scenes, and numerous featurettes taking fans of the beloved classic behind the scenes of bringing it to life. Grab your copy of Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret available now on digital, On Demand, Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.