Film adaptation of classic novel worth the wait


The carefree dog days of summer in 1970s New York City evolve into traditional American family suburban life in Kelly Freemon Craig’s charming adaptation of the landmark novel, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Judy Blume’s avant-garde novel has impacted generations with its timeless coming-of-age story and insightful humor for over 50 years.

In one of the year’s most anticipated movies, Abby Ryder Fortson (“Ant-Man”) plays the title pre-teen role, whose awkward stage is magnified when she moves from NYC to a New Jersey suburb with her family. As they pack up the family car, Margaret whispers to God, “Please don’t let New Jersey be too horrible.”

Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie play Barbara and Herb, Margaret’s parents, who struggle with their identities while adapting to a spacious home, yard sales and PTA meetings.

Margaret acclimates to her new life by navigating a series of conflicting moods about buying her first bra, crushing on boys and joining a secret club. As she and her friends wait to see who will get their period first, they try to rush puberty along by landing training bras and reciting, “I must, I must, I must increase my bust.”

Craig films these scenes with affection for the girls, never illustrating them as silly, even when they’re at their silliest.

Oscar-winner Kathy Bates plays Sylvia, Margaret’s free-spiriting, judgment-spouting grandmother who makes for some of the film’s more entertaining scenes. She’s unhappy about the move and doesn’t miss a chance to remind them of her disappointment. In her colorful costumes, Bates steals every scene as her character pokes the prickly family dynamics and challenges their ideas about religion and faith.

With its timeless themes and tender approach to complicated emotions, audiences will find “Are You There God?” a familiar and enjoyable film adaptation of Blume’s classic novel that was definitely worth the wait.