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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Promotes candid, close relationships between parents and children (including adult children and their parents) and honesty between friends. Explores negative aspects of exclusive friendship clubs and how spreading rumors can be a form of bullying. Sends message that adolescence arrives for everybody in time, and there's no need to chase it. Everyone's body changes at a unique pace, and no one should be ashamed of how much or little they've developed at a certain age. Also, faith is a personal matter and shouldn't be forced on anyone. Themes of compassion, empathy, curiosity, kindness.
Positive Role Models
Margaret is curious, intelligent, kind. When she does something she regrets or knows is wrong, she asks for forgiveness. She's a loving, considerate friend, daughter, granddaughter. She visits places of worship from a place of respect and curiosity. Margaret's parents are both loving and attentive. Margaret's mom learns to say no and that she doesn't have to do everything that the other suburban moms do. Both Margaret and her mother realize that they don't have to bow to peer pressure and should be secure in their individual contributions and interests. Nancy overpowers others' opinions and makes some poor choices but demonstrates vulnerability too.
Complex female characters are at the heart of this story, which was also written and directed by women. Margaret is half-Jewish and half-Christian; she deals with her faith identity throughout the movie. Her close circle of friends includes a White Jewish girl, another White girl, and a Black girl, and her teacher is a Black man. Other people of color in background roles. Margaret attends a service at a Black church, but her world is primarily a White space. A boy who's seen as "weird" by many of his classmates is heavy and has glasses; most other characters are slim.
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Violence & Scariness
Margaret's father is hurt while mowing the lawn with his new lawn mower. He ends up with a bloody wound on his hand. Arguments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Frequent, specific, at times detailed references to puberty, menstruation, breast growth/size, and sex/health education. The girls do breast-enlarging exercises and repeatedly chant "we must, we must, we must increase our bust." Pre-teens are shown in bikinis and underwear in a non-sexual context. Many discussions of crushes on boys and of a classmate's curvy body and rumored "experience" with boys "feeling her up." Margaret's friends stare at her father's Playboy magazine (no nudity is visible, but it's clear they're looking at a centerfold, and they compare her breasts to theirs). They also look at a drawing/diagram of a penis in an anatomy book, and Nancy says she's seen her brother's. Middle schoolers play a game that's a mash-up of spin the bottle and seven minutes in heaven. Margaret has her first kiss. Margaret's parents are affectionate with each other; they hold hands and embrace. Lingerie seen in catalog.
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Uses of "hell," "sucked," "oh my God," "stupid," "schmuck," "idiot," "dumb," "shut up."
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Products & Purchases
Tab soda, Playboy magazine, Corn Flakes cereal, Fresca, Oreos, Twinkies, Looney Tunes, Keds shoes, the Rockettes.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine at a couple of dinners.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a faithful adaptation of Judy Blume's beloved 1970 coming-of-age novel about kind, curious 11-year-old Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Fortson), who moves from New York City to the New Jersey suburbs the summer before sixth grade. Brought up in a religion-free home due to her parents' (Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie) interfaith marriage, Margaret explores her feelings about faith as well as the bodily and behavioral changes that come with adolescence. As in the book, there are many references to topics like periods and period products, puberty, breast size, crushes, and kissing. Margaret's circle of friends discuss boys (and look at a copy of Playboy and a diagram of a penis in an anatomy book) and gossip about a classmate who's more developed. They believe -- and spread -- rumors about how experienced she is with boys. Margaret has her first kiss during a spin the bottle-like game at a party. Margaret, who's half-Jewish and half-Christian, has Black, White, and Jewish close friends, but it's really her faith that's explored. As a result, there's a lot of discussion, some of it heated, about spirituality and religion. Be prepared for honest depictions of these topics and the potential questions they could lead to. Adults drink wine with dinner, and language includes words like "hell," "oh my God," and "idiot." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig's delightful adaptation of Judy Blume's timeless tale is a nostalgic, relevant look at early adolescence, friendship, spirituality, and parent-child relationships. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret stays faithful to the classic source material but also freshens it up. The end result is entertaining and appropriate for both lifelong Blume devotees (looking at you, fellow Gen Xers) and a new generation of potential Margaret fans. Fortson is wonderful as Margaret, a curious and kind middle schooler who's just trying to find her way in the world. Kathy Bates is also fabulous as Margaret's brassy, Manhattan-dwelling grandmother, who misses being just blocks away from her beloved granddaughter. McAdams and Safdie have a surprising amount of chemistry as an interfaith couple whose difficult personal experiences led them to intentionally keep their daughter from knowing about religion rather than expose her to both of the faiths they were raised with -- or choose one for her.
Margaret's journey toward self-discovery is joyous, emotional, and funny. Most viewers will be able to relate to elements of the perspectives of the adult and/or the tween characters. Blume readers may find themselves laughing aloud as Margaret and her friends chant "I must, I must, I must increase my bust," or when Margaret gets her first kiss from the class's overly slick crush. Religion and puberty aren't always easy-to-navigate topics, but the movie, like the book, delves candidly into substantive issues without being preachy. The film honors Blume's frank approach to discussing periods, bras, health education, kissing, faith, and more. An ideal pick for parents and tweens/teens -- or for adults who grew up reading the book -- this movie proves that sometimes the right adaptation is worth the wait.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.