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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars is the second movie in a trilogy based on the spunky orphan heroine of L.M. Montgomery's classic book. This one's focus is on Anne's becoming a teen and dealing with the ups and downs that accompany that time in her life. Her relationship with Gilbert warms and eventually hints at attraction, which strains her friendship with Diana and forces her into a difficult decision. As Anne ponders her future, she turns to her adoptive parents and other kind adults in her life for guidance. She still makes mistakes, often because of her impulsive nature, but she learns from them and acknowledges the need to not repeat the behavior. Anne continues to be an excellent role model of perseverance and self-esteem, and the story's positive themes are great for families.
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What's the story?
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: THE GOOD STARS opens with Anne Shirley (Ella Ballentine) comfortably settled into her new home on Prince Edward Island with middle-age siblings Marilla (Sara Botsford) and Matthew Cuthbert (Martin Sheen). As she approaches 13, Anne struggles with the uncertainties of this unfamiliar time in her life and the emotions it brings. Though Diana Barry (Julia Lalonde) remains her most treasured friend, even their relationship is strained by changes that happen, in particular Anne's growing fondness for their classmate Gilbert Blythe (Drew Haytaoglu). But Anne continues to be surrounded by kind, compassionate adults who help her find her way in these uncharted waters of growing up.
Is it any good?
This beloved literary heroine is played emphatically by Ballentine, whose maturity beyond her work in the first of the movie trilogy matches Anne's journey toward adulthood. Many of Anne's most memorable mistakes make an appearance in this installment, including her run-in with Josephine Barry (Joan Gregson), her near-drowning during a re-enactment of the Lily Maid, and of course her green hair incident. This segment also sees the introduction of her kindhearted mentor and teacher, Miss Stacy (Natalie Lisinska), who inspires and validates Anne in new ways. As Anne is challenged by the changes she sees and feels in her life, it's the adults like Marilla and Matthew (especially Matthew, who takes a more prominent and outspoken role in this story) who help her find her way.
Viewers who came to know Anne with an "e" in the 2016 movie will happily follow her continuing escapades in this second installment, which mostly lives up to its predecessor. As is often the case with the middle film in a trilogy, though, The Good Stars feels a bit like it's loose on both ends, jumping right into and out of the story in somewhat abrupt fashion. But even those fans of the classic Kevin Sullivan movie will find this remake more enjoyable than not, provided they can put to rest their expectations of it matching the original. Of particular note is Matthew's more assertive role in Anne's life, which tramples a bit on Montgomery's story but gives reason for Sheen to take a welcome turn in the spotlight. Ultimately this is a thoughtful coming-of-age story with excellent messages about family and friendship.
Talk to your kids about ...
What factors challenge Anne's ability to persevere in Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars? How does she find joy in the little things while she waits for the future she envisions? Can you sympathize with her struggles with patience? What are some of Anne's character strengths?
How do role models inspire Anne? How does she balance the positive behavior she sees in others with her creative and impulsive nature?
How does this version of Anne and her story compare to those in the book and/or in the 1980s movie? What other strong female characters do you admire?
- In theaters: November 23, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: November 7, 2017
- Cast: Ella Ballentine, Martin Sheen, Sara Botsford
- Director: John Kent Harrison
- Studio: PBS Distribution
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Character strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: May 18, 2020
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