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Harriet the Spy (Widescreen Collection)

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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.

Special Features


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: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008OM8T
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,159 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Harriet the Spy (Widescreen Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Susan Edgington on January 8, 2006
Format: DVD
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2004
Format: DVD
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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Claire Hennessy on 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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Harriet the Spy (Widescreen Collection)
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