Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.

Are You There God? It's Me Margaret may just be the Stand By Me of women's coming-of-age films.
74/10012660
Starring
Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Abby Ryder Fortson
Director
Kelly Freeman Craig
Rating
PG-13
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Release date
April 28, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Plot/Story
62%
Visuals/Cinematography
60%
Performance
83%
Direction
75%
Non-Wokeness
90%
Rating Summary
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a thoughtful and well-maid movie that explores important and difficult subject matters with respect and care. With excellent performances from some very talented children as well as solid performances from the adult actors and actresses, AYTGIMM is a coming-of-age story that will likely speak directly to the heart of young ladies and the memories of grown women. WARNING: If you are a man who is not currently trying to dig his way out of the doghouse, do whatever you can to avoid this movie. It is NOT for you.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a straight man who grew up with brothers, and I recognize that Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was not written or made for me. As a result, I struggled to connect with it emotionally, so this may end up being a rather clinical review.

**UPDATE** Lionsgate, the production behind this film, has enlisted trans-activist and social media (unhinged) personality in a Paid Partnership to help promote this film. Here you can watch him in a vomit inducing interview with the book’s author, Judy Blume. We can no longer, in good conscience, recommend this film as Worth it.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

The film, set in the 70s,  details the coming of age of a 12-year-old girl as she adjusts to the multitude of changes taking place in her life, most of which are out of her control. Her family suddenly and without warning uproots her from the only home that she’s ever known, an apartment in New York City, to the Jersey suburbs. There, she struggles with the uncomfortable reality of making new friends, all while going through the radical physical and emotional changes of puberty.

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If that’s not enough, she is also trying to come to terms with the duality of her heretofore-ignored Jewish and Christian heritage in an attempt to find clarity, wisdom, and peace. Needless to say, it’s a lot to deal with all at once.

The plot has few twists and turns, instead, it mostly focuses on Margaret and her desire to start her period and grow her bosom, as the pressure of those in her circle of blossoming friends increases. Compounding her frustration is a lack of religious direction from her now-secularly Jewish father and Christian-raised mother, who have forsworn their respective religious upbringings. They are loving and caring parents but have left Margaret rudderless in this regard.

So, in an act of childishly innocent frustration, Margaret turns to a God whom she does not know, which is the catalyst for the film’s emotional throughline. Throughout the movie, Margaret turns to God for comfort and answers, and while it’s never directly stated, the subtext of the film is that she receives the comfort and answers that she is seeking…if not in her preferred timeline or way.

In a character-driven film starring children, the achievement of director Kelly Fremon Craig to get perfect and heartfelt performances from not just the lead, Abby Ryder Fortson, but from every child (of which there are many) cannot be overstated. There is never a solitary moment in which each and every child actor and actress is not natural and in the moment. Casting director Melissa Kostenbauder also deserves special recognition. She just may be the true star of the film.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is not a perfect film and struggles to balance the culmination of multiple storylines in its third act. However, thanks to experienced and talented performers like Kathy Bates, even the somewhat rushed resolution will likely leave its female viewers satisfied.

While I suspect that women will find the movie to be both touching and riotously funny, it will most likely make men miserable and uncomfortable. There are countless candid discussions about 11 to 12-year-old girls’ menstruations and busts, as well as several other moments in which, fathers of daughters like myself will find cringe-inducing. All in all though, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret is a perfectly paced film with excellent and economical dialogue, superb performances, and a thoughtful if flawed view of God and religion. Even though I would never watch it again, or have watched it were it not my job, I feel comfortable marking it as Worth it (with the caveat that it’s Worth it for women).

 

WOKE ELEMENTS

Although the film ultimately misses the mark in relation to organized religion, it is a powerful example of the power of and comfort derived from prayer and communion with God.

  • While religion is treated seriously and with respect in the film, the idea of parents not “pushing” religion onto their children, but instead letting them find their own path is treated as the superior option to thoughtful and earnest guidance. Fortunately for the lead character, her need to connect with the Creator of All Things is outweighed by her secular parents’ refusal to guide her (you know…like parents) in this most important aspect of life.
  • The blond-haired blue-eyed rich white girl is a spoiled liar and her mother is equally self-absorbed. Likewise, the handsome white boy is an arrogant jerk.
  • Conversely, the heavyset boy is interesting and the more diverse characters are kind, thoughtful, and inclusive.

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James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.

One comment

  • Xenia Shang

    September 22, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    3 out of 5

    I watched “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” with my parents and my older sister on Amazon Prime last night. It left me culture shocked in a bad way because there are girls wanting to start their period EARLY; I was culture shocked so badly that I cried in frustration and confusion. As a 18 year old girl, I genuinely cannot understand why girls wanted to start their own period that badly. It is not only pathetic, but also not normal to me. I never wanted to start my period early when I was 11 years old. I never had a friend, sister, or met a girl who was just like Margaret or her friend group. I grew up with 3 older brothers and 2 older sisters who plays video games with me. I’m homeschooled because I have autism. I have some friends in church who share my interests and some who are NOT like Margaret or her friend group. After the movie ended, my parents and my older sister consoled me that not all girls are like Margaret or her friend group. “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” may be for women, but this movie is not for me.

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