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Harriet the Spy (Widescreen Collection) (1996)

Michelle Trachtenberg , Rosie O'Donnell , Bronwen Hughes  |  PG |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michelle Trachtenberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Gregory Smith, Vanessa Lee Chester, J. Smith-Cameron
  • Directors: Bronwen Hughes
  • Writers: Douglas Petrie, Greg Taylor, Julie Talen, Louise Fitzhugh, Theresa Rebeck
  • Producers: Debby Beece, Julia Pistor
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: May 27, 2003
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008OM8T
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,398 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Harriet the Spy (Widescreen Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The first feature film from the Nickelodeon cable channel, Harriet the Spy is an updated version of Louise Fitzhugh's best-selling 1964 children's novel. Sixth grade outcast Harriet (Michelle Trachtenberg) is an only child who has mostly been raised by her nanny, Golly (Rosie O'Donnell), rather than her materialistic parents. Harriet wants to be a writer when she grows up, and only Golly encourages her creative pursuits. Meanwhile, Harriet dons a yellow raincoat and a belt full of gadgets to spy on everyone around her, including her eccentric neighbor with a lot of cats and the other kids at school. Carefully taking notes in her private notebook, Harriet makes clever and cruel observations about her subjects, including her best friends, would-be scientist Janie (Vanessa Lee Chester) and overburdened Sport (Gregory Smith). Harriet's world begins to change when Golly leaves, signaling that it is time for her to grow up. Then a snobby girl a school, Marion, gets her hands on Harriet's special notebook and makes its contents known to the whole school. Soon everyone is against Harriet, and she must concoct a plan to get even.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outside in the Cold... December 29, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Harriet M. Welsch (Michelle Trachtenberg) is an 11-year-old-spy who dreams of being a writer. She explains her obsession with writing by saying: "I want to remember everything, I want to know everything."

In her PRIVATE notebook, she writes down her secret thoughts. Sometimes her comments are all too honest and not that nice. Harriet doesn't yet understand the power of words, but soon she learns, when all her friends become her worst enemies.

Rosie O'Donnell plays the perfect nanny. Her advice to Harriet is that while she might want to know everything, it won't do her a bit of good unless she uses her knowledge to put beauty into the world.

Harriet goes through a great learning experience where she finally realizes she should participate more in life and learns to let go of her writing obsession in order to embrace life. After all, true friends are what makes life wonderful and worth living.

This is a funky, modern story that teaches a wonderful lesson. It is about learning to forgive and being vulnerable enough to be able to say you are sorry.

A great lesson for all ages!

~The Rebecca Review
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fun movie January 8, 2006
After reading some of the negative reviews about this movie, I am inspired to write my views!

I saw Harriet the Spy when it came out in theaters in 1996. I was 16 then, and I had read the book a few times. Quite frankly, I didn't like the book that much. I thought it ended badly and Harriet was a bit too mean in the book. But when I saw the movie, I fell in love with Harriet as played by Michelle Trachtenberg. She was positively wonderful in the role, and made Harriet likable and believable.

Harriet learns some important lessons about friendship and the power of words. She also learns to deal with growing up and living with parents who love her but are often absent. I think many kids can relate to this movie. Harriet's classmates are real kids and we see Harriet having to decide whether to cater to the popular kids or stay true to herself. We also see her take responsibility for her actions and win back her true friends.

I think Harriet is a positive role model in many instances. Of course, some could take issue with her spying on people, but she usually does not do so in an illegal manner! After all, this isn't a totally real story! The only thing I didn't like about the movie is when Harriet's nanny tells her she has to lie in order to win back her friends. Because really, she does not, she simply has to not be so harsh with the truth. But this is a minor point.

The music in this movie is great, and I have tried for years to find a soundtrack without success. If anyone knows where the soundtrack is, please let me know!

I also loved the scenes where Harriet does some crazy and fun things like going with her friends to the lady's garden made out of found objects, or fencing with Golly's boyfriend at the movie theater.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thoughtful and Evocative Children's Film... January 2, 2004
By A Customer
Harriet the Spy is a wonderfully textured little movie, displaying a welcome amount of emotional depth. Though made for children, its virtues transcend age groups - it deftly touches on some very relatable and universal themes. And unlike other children's fare, it dares to venture into some rather somber and affecting territory.
In the title role of Harriet, Michelle Trachtenberg is a delight. She infuses the role with a wide and impressive range of emotion and displays remarkable talent for her age. The character of Harriet is realistically and refreshingly portrayed - like any 11 year-old she has a wealth of charms as well as her share of foibles. Somewhat of an outsider, Harriet turns inward when trouble ensues - due to her self-imposed isolationism, Harriet has a hard time when she falls out of favor with her friends. She makes mistakes along the way - but ultimately, she overcomes her flaws, reaches out to her friends, and takes a more active role in the world. Seeing this honest portrayal of an 11 year-old makes for a rather satisfying journey.
Young Michelle Trachtenberg deftly captures a sense of innocence, curiosity, and angst. Her performance often tugs at the heartstrings due to its subtle delivery. She very much captures a sense of wide-eyed adorability - yet she's often quite haunting when serving as the film's narrator. In the role of Ole Golly, Rosie O'Donnell puts in a decent, if understated performance. And the actors playing Harriet's friends do a nice job of portraying the camaraderie between the three.
Visually, the film is shot in bright colors and an eclectic style. Yet for all the cheery stylistic content, the film touches on some fairly serious emotional territory.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love, I love, I love. October 13, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I really loved this movie. Michelle Trachtenberg is absolutely brilliant. I saw her in this and thought, wow, she's going to be huge. What do you know, now she's in Buffy. Michelle's wonderful as Harriet, the girl who wants to be a writer and writes down things about the others in her class in her journal. Then the journal is found, and she has to deal with the rest of her class not being too happy at the uncomplimentary things she's jotted down about them. Rosie O'Donnell is also excellent as the nanny. (Don't ask me who else starred in this, I can't remember!) :)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Brilliant. Fun.
Published 1 day ago by Lawrence H. Nitz
1.0 out of 5 stars horrible movie is nothing like the great book
This movie is so bad - the book is fantastic and this movie just wrecks it with video style filming and no attempt to capture any of the depth of the characters in the book. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
one of my favorite movies as a kid been wanting to see it again all my life, thank you
Published 18 days ago by Zach Kenny
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
poor quality, but it was good to watch it again.
Published 21 days ago by Dani Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Watched with my husband and grandchildren and we all enjoyed it.
A pleasant surprise. Watched with my husband and grandchildren and we all enjoyed it.
Published 23 days ago by Deborah Jane Cox
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Pretty good kids movie.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars We enjoyed watching it together
Watched it with my daughter. Remember watching this when it came out. Its definitely a "coming of age" film. My daughter is six and this is her rating! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chelsea Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars I watched it with my Granddaughter and we both LOVED it! Such a good...
I watched it with my Granddaughter and we both LOVED it! Such a good message. It may be an "old" movie, but one worth watching with kids.
Published 1 month ago by Jody Schlapper
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite movies!
I grew up watching this movie on VHS (I'm 21 now). I still love this movie. I'm glad that I finally found it online!
Published 1 month ago by Amnesty
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Family Time Movie
I have always loved this movie. I was glad to see it available on Amazon Prime. Remember though this is a children's movie from quite a few years ago. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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