KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL
Great Hardship & Great Triumph
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Joan Cusack,
Glenne Headly, Jane Krakowski,
Chris O’Donnell, Julia
Ormond, Wallace Shawn, and
Audience: All ages
Distributor: Picturehouse/Warner Bros./Time
Director: Patricia Rozema
Executive Producer: Julia Roberts
Producer: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Ellen
L. Brothers and Lisa Gillan
Writer: Ann Peacock
Address Comments To:Bob Berney, President
(A division of Warner Bros. and Time Warner)
597 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 303-1700
Fax: (212) 421-1163
In the beginning of the movie, Kit seems to be living the ideal life. She wants to be a reporter. She lives in a beautiful house. Her father is a successful automobile salesman. There are signs of problems looming all around her, however.
Kit runs into two hoboes, a young white man and a seemingly black boy. When she brings them to her home so they can work for food, her mother is having a garden party and her mother’s friends are shocked that the hoboes would be anywhere near them. The Great Depression evidently has taken its toll on many lives, and it is about to take its toll in 1934 on Kit’s family.
One day Kit is helping at the soup kitchen, and she sees her father in the line. He has lost his job! He heads off to Chicago from Cincinnati to get a new job.
Kit finds out from the hoboes that there’s a hobo camp where many of the people came from respectable backgrounds and lost everything they had. To survive, Kit’s mother starts taking in boarders. One of them is a magician who seems to be a little too good to be true.
Then, somebody steals the lock box with all the rent. Hoboes are being accused of thefts throughout Ohio, and Kit has to solve the mystery of the stolen goods with her girlfriends and young boyfriend.
The ending of AMERICAN GIRL is one of the most satisfying in recent memory and is reminiscent of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. The first part of the movie misses its plot point and develops a little too slowly. Abigail Breslin is such a winsome actress, however, that no one may notice. There is great authenticity in the music, the settings and the direction. The casting is superb.
One problem area is that the librarian gives the hobo a book about Robin Hood. A little later, the core group of friends and family agree that stealing from the rich is a good idea. This is ultimately rebuked, but the rebuke might not be clear enough for little children. A lesser problem is that Kit has a tree house where her girlfriends gather and perform silly secret initiation ceremonies. Finally, the movie’s message seems to be that, with the right attitude, one can deal with any problem, a similar message to NIM’S ISLAND. The good news, however, is the fact that the hobo makes a positive reference to thank the good Lord, and a Thanksgiving scene is truly a scene of celebration in a positive spiritual sense.
In KIT KITTREDGE, the bad guys get caught; good triumphs; and, the impossible happens. Thus, KIT KITTREDGE ultimately is a good family movie, but younger children should be advised about the Robin Hood theme.
KIT KITTREDGE starts slow and lyrical but ends with a heartfelt wallop. The casting is superb, including Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin. One problem is that the movie’s moral worldview is confused by a Robin Hood theme that is ultimately resolved. The bad guys get caught. Good triumphs. The impossible happens. And, a Thanksgiving scene is truly a scene of celebration in a positive spiritual sense.