Samantha: An American Girl Holiday

Movie review by
Teresa Talerico, Common Sense Media
Samantha: An American Girl Holiday Movie Poster Image
Charming, turn-of-the-century American Girl tale.
  • NR
  • 2006
  • 86 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Accepting change with grace, preserving memories of loved ones, helping those who are less fortunate, learning when to ask for help. The cruel operator of an orphanage doesn't get away with her bad behavior.

Violence & scariness

A young factory worker is injured when his finger gets caught in a sewing machine. The injury is not seen, but it's implied that it's fairly gruesome.

Sexy stuff

A couple kiss at their wedding.


The movie is based on Samantha, a doll in the popular "American Girl" collection. Although the movie itself does not include products, the packaging includes a coupon for $10 off an American Girl purchase. A special feature provides a tour of the American Girl store in New York City, which sells a variety of merchandise related to the dolls.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the movie explores some sensitive storylines, such as socioeconomic differences and how children cope with the death of parents -- the main character is an orphan being raised by her grandmother. The DVD does a good, thoughtful job of addressing these issues.

User Reviews

Adult Written byLM April 9, 2008

Charming movie with important message

This is a great movie to watch with your daughters. It deals with a lot of social issues, death of parents, rich vs. poor, helping the less fortunate. It also... Continue reading
Educator Written byCommonSenseChristian May 2, 2015

A Perfect Holiday Flick for You and Your American Girl

I grew up reading the American Girls Collection and playing with the dolls. Therefore, even though I was an adult when this movie came out, I had to see it and... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAmericangirlforever September 2, 2010

Great, Heart Warming Story

This movie tells a great heart warming story that takes place in has a heart warming ending. And a tradigity as well. Its a great movie 5 out of 5
Kid, 11 years old November 26, 2009
A cute movie for slightly older children

What's the story?

Samantha (AnnaSophia Robb) is a 9-year-old orphan who lives with her wealthy grandmother (Mia Farrow). Spirited and sensitive, Samantha has a loving relationship with "Grandmary," although the girl's tomboyish ways occasionally frustrate (and bemuse) the dignified older woman. Samantha also gets frustrated and sad because she deeply misses her parents and knows talking about them would be too upsetting for Grandmary. When three young sisters and their widower-father move in next door to work as servants, Samantha immediately befriends the girls. Samantha also struggles with jealousy when her beloved, fun-loving Uncle Gard (Jordan Bridges) introduces her to his fiancée. But the little girl learns to love her new Aunt Cornelia (Rebecca Mader), a kind and intelligent woman who genuinely cares about Samantha.

Is it any good?

SAMANTHA: AN AMERICAN GIRL HOLIDAY beautifully brings to life both New York in the year 1904 and one of the dolls from the American Girl collection. Originally airing on TV, this story is a poignant portrait of a girl trying to make a difference. The obvious class difference between Samantha and her neighbors is handled skillfully in this movie, and Samantha understands how she can make a positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Indeed, the movie portrays Samantha as a role model for young girls. However, she is also a believable character who sometimes uses poor judgment, as when she convinces Nellie to sneak out for a turn-of-the-century sleepover in the boathouse, or when she nobly tries to rescue the three sisters from a grim orphanage.

The film also provides an interesting history lesson about this era by incorporating elements such as the opening of New York City's subway system and even the advent of bathroom showers. The movie has a strong social conscience, as well, evident in how Cornelia is portrayed as a suffragette working for a woman's right to vote, or how a sweatshop is depicted as a harsh environment that abuses the child-laborers it employs. Samantha becomes a "crusader" in her own right, organizing a coat drive for orphans and speaking out about the negative aspects of industrialization in a climactic speech contest.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Samantha demonstrates concern for those who are less fortunate and how her efforts occasionally go awry. For instance, although her rescue of the orphans is well intentioned, what might have been a better way to handle it? Also, was it wise for her to wander the streets of New York alone to find Nellie in the factory?

Movie details

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