Harriet the Spy
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that fans of the eponymous book will love watching an updated Harriet explore her world and write what she sees. The film, aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds, will have these kids squirming in their seats when Harriet meets her Waterloo. But older kids who loved the book will want to see it, too.
What's the story?
Eleven-year-old Harriet M. Welsch (Michelle Trachtenberg) wants to be a writer. Golly (Rosie O'Donnell), her nanny and best friend, encourages her to work toward her goal by keeping a notebook and writing down her observations about everything she sees. Harriet becomes a keen observer for the sake of her writing. Harriet's endeavor suffers a setback when Golly and her parents decide that she no longer needs to have a nanny. Even worse, her top-secret notebook gets into the hands of her nemesis, Marion, the class snob. The snob reads aloud all that Harriet has written, and the children ostracize her. Harriet learns that there is more to people than just the superficial details that she notes in her book.
Is it any good?
Louise Fitzhugh's book of the same title has been a favorite of several generations of girls. They're the best audience for this movie, which brings the story faithfully to life (but moves it from Manhattan of the 1960s to a blander, unidentified city of the present). The problem is that the film too often gets lost amid long, uninteresting scenes involving Harriet, her friends, and their escapades.
We want to learn more about some of the colorful characters that Harriet spies on. The movie spends just enough time with them to catch our attention, then disappoints us by forgetting about them. The only character we come to know is Harriet, who tests our sympathy by writing down mean observations about her classmates. The highlight of the movie is Rosie O'Donnell's performance as Golly, although the notion of an 11-year-old girl with a nanny will seem odd to most people.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how they've have handled being treated badly at school and how they treat their own friends. Parents won't want children imitating Harriet's attempts to seek revenge on the kids who have ostracized her or Janie's "scientific" experiments.
|Theatrical release date:||February 25, 1997|
|DVD release date:||February 25, 1995|
|Cast:||Gregory Smith, Michelle Trachtenberg, Rosie O'Donnell|
|Genre:||Family and Kids|
|Run time:||101 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||thematic intensity|