‘Are you there God? I Am Margaret Review: Judy Blume Film Version

“The Edge of Seventeen” filmmaker Kelly Fremon Craig is two for two with another wonderfully, warmly crafted coming-of-age comedy.


Not Just You: 2023 is the Year of Judy Blume. The iconic author’s on-screen credits include a 1978 TV movie “Forever,” 2012’s big-screen hit “Tiger Eyes” and even the ’90s-era TV series “Fudge-a-Mania,” and now he’s got a documentary and a feature film released within days of each other. It seems to be everywhere all of a sudden – and thank goodness we need it now more than ever.

The Blume book you know (and love) best — the stirring “Forever”? the weird “Fudge” series? the sore “Deenie”? — more than a litmus test for the literary obsessions of young adults; it may also contain hints of what you held onto, even as an adult. However, we hazard a guess, “Are you there, God? I Am Margaret is her most enduring book, if only because it’s a wonderfully idiosyncratic story about a teenage girl anxious for her first period to arrive, and a deeply universal tale about the search for meaning in life. circle.

This is the magic of Blume’s books: the author sees all of her characters and concerns, ostensibly for children and young adults, as worthy of examination. It’s different when, say, Margaret’s mother is worried about reconnecting with her parents after they cut her off long ago because of her choice of husband, compared to her sixth-grade daughter who’s beginning to agonize over when she’ll need her first bra. For Blume, it is these people and their problems all important, all vital and all worthy of respect.

Judy Blume never talked down to children or adults, and that spirit guides Kelly Fremon Craig’s film adaptation of Are You God? It’s me, Margaret. It’s an adaptation that Blume resisted for a long time, at least before “The Edge of Seventeen” filmmaker and mentor and producer James L. Brooks pitched their idea to him, but Blume’s book translates beautifully to the big screen with the same zest and vigor and by a lot. The humor of Blume’s books.

Rachel McAdams as Barbara Dimon and Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret Simon in Are You God?  It's me, Margaret.  Photo by Dana Hawley

“Are you there God? It’s me Margaret”

Dana Hawley/Lionsgate

“Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret” is not only the best Blume adaptation currently available, but an instant classic of the coming-of-age genre, a warm, witty, incredibly inspiring film that is already one of the best of the year. This probably won’t make any news to anyone who loves Blume’s books, or who was into Fremon Craig’s first feature film (itself an instant classic, this woman is two for two!), but that doesn’t detract from the sheer joy of this. film (or the revelation that Yesdecades of IP can really bring modern masterpieces).

Adapted for the screen by Fremon Craig, “Are You God?” it stays true to the source material with a few changes to make the story tighter and loses nothing in translation. Set in the early 70s, we first meet 11-year-old Margaret Simon (a star-making turn from the talented Abby Ryder Fortson) on her way home to her beloved New York City at the end of a great summer. turbulent time in the sleeping camp.

But things changed in Margaret’s life without her knowing it—heck, without her even knowing it gift — and when Margaret is picked up by her slightly troubled mother Barbara (a delightful Rachel McAdams), she drops some important hints that life is different. There’s the new car she’s bought, and Margaret’s glowing grandmother Sylvia (Kathy Bates, having the time of her life) by her side.

Still, Margaret is so happy to be at home with her tight-knit family (plus her father, Herb, played with unexpected charm by Benny Safdie), that she doesn’t quite understand how everything could be turned upside down by her one secret. a righteously mad Sylvia: Margaret, Barbara and Herb move. To a house. in New Jersey.

Kathy Bates as Sylvia Simon and Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret Simon in Are You God?  It's me, Margaret.  Photo by Dana Hawley

“Are you there God? It’s me Margaret”

Dana Hawley/Lionsgate

This may be the first big change in young Margaret’s life, but it will start many more. In suburban New Jersey, Margaret’s existence is thrown into turmoil (a tough-toned romp, but Fremon Craig and his co-stars make it scary and incredibly funny). There’s her foul-mouthed new neighbor Nancy (Elle Graham), who quickly invites Margaret to a secret club that’s about everything from sharing love to getting bras to mild harassment. There is his still reeling grandmother, desperate to speak to her only grandchild. There is also the developing life of his mother, which is affected by many changes (coming of age indeed any age).

And there is God. Margaret starts talking to God for the first time because of the news in New Jersey – she folds her hands and prays to the man upstairs to stop the move, or at least not to. bad – a new tendency for a child who was raised mostly outside of religion. So while many will probably remember Blume’s book for its honest and hilarious approach to Margaret’s physical changes, Fremon Craig doesn’t skimp on the metaphysical elements either. Growing up actually means growing in all directions, in all ways. As Margaret moves toward adulthood, she soon discovers that religion—as confusing, confusing, and divisive as things of the flesh—is an inevitable part of it.

Margaret’s sixth-grade follow-up: “Are You There, God?” it has a lot of fertile material. And even though it’s set in the ’70s, the issues facing Margaret (and Barbara and Sylvia, in their own stories) are remarkably relatable and fresh. It’s eternally rich stuff, and even if the details have changed over the years (not many young girls these days are stuck using ‘Teenage Softies’ cushions, for example, Margaret and her friends are starting to buy them), the feelings remain the same.

Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret Simon, Amari Price as Janie Loomis, Elle Graham as Nancy Wheeler and Katherine Kupferer as Gretchen Potter in Are You God?  It's me, Margaret.  Photo by Dana Hawley

“Are you there God? It’s me Margaret”

Dana Hawley/Lionsgate

It also allows Fremon Craig and the rest of his team to have a damn good time with the details of Blume’s original story. The production, appropriate to the era, is never fussy or theatrical, but experienced and believable. Steve Sakland’s production design and Ann Roth’s costumes add real texture to the lives of Margaret and her family: Barbara’s inability to choose a new sofa inspires many fun possibilities, while a moment where Barbara removes leaves from their dining room table. a disastrous visit with his parents is one of the film’s most heartbreaking events.

First published in 1970, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” is an enduring classic for a reason. It’s a warm movie, a good-hearted movie, a funny movie, it has something for everyone. It’s so rare these days, but as we welcome the Judy Blumeissance with open arms, we need to remember that it wasn’t always so rare, and the stories and characters that persist do so for a good reason: they’re timeless.

grade: A-

Lionsgate releases Are You There God? I’m Margaret” in theaters Friday, April 28.

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