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Review: Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008)

Director: Patricia Rozema | 100 minutes | drama, family | Actors: , , Chris O’Donnell, Jane Krakowski, Wallace Shawn, , , Glenne Headly, , , Joan Cusack, , , Douglas Nyback, Dylan Roberts, , , , Austin Macdonald, Brieanne Jansen, Erin Hilgartner, , Erin McMurtry, , , , , David Talbot, Darryn Lucio, John Healy, , , , Jordan Rackley, Eddie Graff, Taylor Lyn,

American Girl is a toy line that is very popular in the United States. The line consists of various dolls based on fictional ten-year-old girls from different periods in American , roughly from the 18th to the 20th century. Each doll is accompanied by various accessories such as books, magazines and furniture. In 2003, when the American Girl dolls were seventeen years old, production company Red Om, in collaboration with actress Julia Roberts, began filming the first American Girl movie, “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday.” “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl” is now the fourth in the series. The film has a cast to say the least, but that is not the only thing that makes the film worthwhile: the film looks neat, the story is continuously engaging and offers about 100 minutes of family entertainment.

America, the 1930s. Kit (Abigail Breslin) is a nine-year-old girl who lives with her parents (Chris O’Donnell and Julia Ormond) in a beautiful house in Cincinatti. She spends her free time with friends in a tree house or behind her typewriter. Kit dreams of a career as a journalist and with her nose for human interest stories, it seems that she will succeed. However, she is dismissed from the editorial office of the local newspaper (hilarious scene with Wallace Shawn as editor), but Kit does not give up. Then the recession hits: first Kit’s neighbors have to leave their homes because they can no longer pay the mortgage, then Dad Kittredge loses his car dealer and goes to Chicago to look for a job there. Kit and her mother stay behind and take in a large number of tenants in order to be able to pay the monthly costs. It is a colorful company, played by a number of interesting actors. Stanley Tucci plays an illusionist who entertains the children and adults with all kinds of tricks; Joan Cusack plays a librarian who hasn’t quite mastered the controls of her driving library bus, and Kit’s classmate Stirling (an adorable Zack Mills) and his stiff mom (Glenne Headly) are also forced to move in with Kit. Then there’s the frivolous dance instructor Miss May Dooley (Jane Krakowski), who sees in every single man a potential suitor, and vagrants (oboes) Will Shepherd (Max Thieriot) and his little protégé Countee Garby (Willow Smith) who do odd jobs in and out. around the house in exchange for food. Kit’s detective skills are put to the test when a number of robberies and thefts are committed. Evidence against the vagrants, Will in particular, is piling up, but Kit is convinced he is innocent. With the help of Stirling and her friend Ruthie (Madison Davenport), is she able to find out who is really behind the burglaries?

Canadian Patricia Rozema previously created the entertaining “Mansfield Park”, freely based on Jane Austen’s classic. With “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl” she sticks more to the source material. She succeeds in telling a simple but solid story in an honest but heartwarming way, in which false emotions do not emerge. With the Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin she has of course been able to add top talent for the title role to the film, but the rest of the actors are also impressive. Child actors Zack Mills, Willow Smith and Madison Davenport are excellent performers and the adult cast is also putting the best foot forward. The dolls and all related merchandise may be for young girls, but you’re never too old for the movie “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl”.

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