Customer Reviews: Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
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on July 3, 2008
"Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" is certainly heartwarming and innocent, but that doesn't mean it's shallow and cloying. I admit that I thought it would be, mostly because I was expecting a virtual clone of last year's awful "Nancy Drew." There are certain similarities: both feature plucky young girls who do a lot of investigating; both have an assortment of colorful side characters; both are based on a series of stories, both feature Max Theroit. Unlike "Nancy Drew," however, "Kit Kittredge" aims to tell a good story with real subtexts; taking place at the height of the Great Depression, we meet characters that are downtrodden and desperate, not only because their financial situations are bleak, but also because they face the scorn and rejection of ignorant people. This adaptation of stories drawn from the "American Girl" doll line mixes childish zeal with some very mature themes, and that alone made it worth seeing.

Abigail Breslin brings enthusiasm, charm, and heart to the title character, a ten-year-old girl from Cincinnati, Ohio who runs a tree house club and dreams of becoming a newspaper reporter. She wants to write stories with fresh angles so that she can finally get into print. A pair of hobos--a helpful teenager named Will (Max Theroit) and his young friend, Countee (Willow Smith)--inspire Kit to write an article on hobo life. The fresh angle is that it will be told entirely from a kid's perspective, which may be needed in this case since many adults feel hobos are good-for-nothing leeches that suck the government dry. Kit has heard this rhetoric from her neighbors and classmates--one especially snotty young boy says that selling eggs and wearing dresses made of chicken feed bags bring you one step closer to the poorhouse.

But Kit is beginning to understand the hobos' plight, not only because many of her neighbors have lost their homes to foreclosures, but also because her unemployed father (Chris O'Donnell) is forced to find work all the way in Chicago. Hoping to make ends meet, Kit's mother (Julia Ormond) turns their home into a boarding house. This is how we meet: Ms. Dooley (Jane Krakowski), a husband-seeking dance instructor; the disapproving Mrs. Howard (Glenne Headly) and her young son, Sterling (Zach Mills); Ms. Bond (Joan Cusack), a slightly goofball mobile librarian; and Jefferson Burke (Stanley Tucci), a magician. When the subject of hobo robberies comes up, Mrs. Kittredge has everyone put their valuables in her lockbox. When it's stolen, everyone suspects Will as the culprit, including the police. Kit takes it upon herself to investigate. Despite what the evidence suggests, she believes her hobo friend is innocent.

It fairly obvious that "Kit Kittredge" is a commentary on prejudice; at one point in the film, Kit tells a cantankerous newspaper editor (Wallace Shawn) that there are good hobos and there are bad hobos, much like good apples and bad apples. She then gets a hard lesson in office politics when it's revealed that newspapers print only what the public wants to read, and the unfortunate truth is that the public is intolerant of hobos. Naturally, those who say this haven't met the people living in a hobo jungle, as Kit has; they're some of the nicest people around, and they willingly let Kit photograph them and write about them for her article. Messages of acceptance and understanding are not new, certainly not for a family film. But unlike a lot of other such stories, "Kit Kittredge" doesn't condescend, and when we leave, we feel both entertained and emotionally rejuvenated.

Aside from Kit, one of the film's best characters is Sterling, who at such a young age has already been beaten down by life. Sterling's father, much like Kit's, also left Cincinnati to find work, and communication with his family has steadily decreased. You see nothing but hurt and sadness in this boy's eyes. He and Kit are practically in the same boat, which is why they form a special bond. Kit is now worried that her father will forget her and her mother completely, even after promising to write them every single week. I remember a scene when Kit types a letter to her father; the frustration and fear she pours into the first draft makes for a heartbreaking moment.

I can't guarantee that adults will be as receptive to "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" as kids will, but I definitely recommend they give it a chance. The doll may be a hollow piece of plastic, but the character is something else entirely--she's kind, spirited, intelligent, and just plain wonderful. Some may criticize the film for being too sentimental, and indeed, it's light-hearted and optimistic, more than would be expected from a story set during the Depression. But it's more mature than it lets on. Even with a childish sense of humor, hopelessness and grief are not spared on the audience. It's always a pleasure to see a family film that was made with all audiences in mind, not just kids. "Kit Kittredge" is such a film, one of the most enjoyable I've seen all summer.
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on October 31, 2008
Coming from a 16-hear-old girl like myself, this review may be of little help to some people. But to tell my honest opinion, this movie is a good one. And when I say good, I mean it's good. It's clean, has a fun storyline, GREAT actors, cute moments...and altogether leaves you feeling satisfied. While boys and men may not find much they like about it, I would recommend giving it a try. Little girls, teenagers, and moms alike have all told me they loved why wouldn't you? :)
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on July 8, 2008
Compared to all of these crude 3-D animated movies,the repeated Super hero flicks, and the Rated R movies that have gone too far, there is finally a movie that is good without without the phony glitz and glamor! In fact, this movie teaches kids to be thankful for what they have and forget all of that nonsense. It is educational without being boring. It is interesting and has something for everybody in this movie. I recommend it for the whole family. You MUST go see this.
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on July 3, 2008
Kit Kitteridge: An American Girl is based on the best selling American Girl Kit Books authored by Valerie Tripp.
Kit's story begins in the 1930's during the Great Depression. Kit's father, Mr. Kitteridge, owns a car dealership. Her mother, Margaret is the director of the Ladies Garden Club. Kit's brother Charlie, is serving in the CCC, created by President Roosevelt. Kit aspires to become a newspaper reporter and to one day see herself in print with the Cinncinati Register. However due to the events of the Great Depression, Kit and her family's world is turned upside down. Mr. Kitteridge becomes unemployed after the bank forecloses on his car dealership. Due to the umployment situation in Cinncinati he travels to Chicago looking for work. Margaret Kitteridge along with Kit take on the responsibility of turning their large home into a boarding house. The boarders are an eclectic mix of individuals from different backgrounds. Stirling Howard, a classmate of Kit's and his mother Mrs.Howard, Miss Dooley, a dance instructor, Miss Bond, the local mobile librarian who can only stop the mobile library if she runs into something, Jefferson Berk, a magician who has a mystery of his own, and Fredrich, the boarder whose pet monkey is always keeping everyone on their toes. Kit and her mother also befriend Will and County, two young hobos who come to the Kitteridge home looking for work and a sense of family. Of course an American Girl story would not be complete without some excitement which comes in the form of a mystery for Kit and her friends to solve. This movie features a wonderful cast of character actors: Abigal Breslin as Kit, Chris O'Donnell as Mr. Kittredge, Julia Ormond as Margaret Kittredge, Jane Krakowski as Miss Dooley, Max Thieriot as Will Shepherd, Glenne Headley as Mrs. Howard, Joan Cusack as Miss Bond and Stanely Tucci as Jefferson Berk.
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on July 10, 2008
I really enjoyed Kit Kittredge. I thought the film was an important and interesting portrait of life in Cincinnati during the Great Depression. As a Cincinnatian, I enjoyed seeing our city portrayed on the big screen and could relate to a lot of the local references.

The film was not the most fast-paced film I've ever seen, but it more than made up for it with its storyline. This movie is at once a drama, mystery and historical fiction. I walked away from the film still thinking about it, which is the sign of a good film to me.

The acting is terrific and includes acting giants and others I believe will be the acting giants of tomorrow. This is not one to be missed.
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on August 7, 2008
It was a really fantastic movie I really liked it because I love American Girl I definetely recommend for you to watch this movie it makes you cry!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 3, 2016
I personally have liked this movie for a long time but it could be that mainly I like the history of the story.

Family movie night has gotten hard lately because it is winter so we have it more often and I feel like we have run out of movies. When this came up as available I had remembered watching it but my daughter hadn't. She is 10 and said she liked it but I could tell that she didn't love it.

There is an air of a who done it in the story and it is cute while touching on how hard it was for people during the depression. This is the story of a confident little girl who will let nothing and no one keep her from becoming a journalist especially while she breaks a big story and manages to catch a criminal and clear the name of an innocent person at the same time. It is a great family movie especially if you have kids between 6-10, my 4 year old son wasn't interested in watching it all.

There is a lot a little girl can learn from Kit Kittredge and a lot adults can learn too and it spills into life today. It teaches you about not listening to stereotypes, standing up for what you believe in, not letting people get you down and learning who your true friends are.
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on July 6, 2015
No princess fluff here! Kit faces real problems with spunk and ingenuity, turning hardship into opportunity as she becomes a reporter and sells eggs to help her family. She then comes together with her friends to save the day and her home by solving the mysterious robberies that have been happening in her neighborhood. I liked that it has a positive role model for girls who works hard and gets things done even when times are hard. Great line of actors and actresses (inconceivable!) and an excellent introduction to depression era history for kids.
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on September 10, 2014
I watched this movie with two little girls ages 7 and 9. They enjoyed it tremendously although some of the issues in the movie are better for children a little older. Basically, the movie covers issues around the Great Depression and people suddenly falling into poverty and the prejudice that they encounter. It is a great film to teach ethics around empathy, open-mindedness and compassion for your fellow human beings. There's a mystery in the film which involves a robbery and it's great fun. The heroine of the film has aspirations to be a journalist and her self-confidence was inspiring to my 9-year-old who is a bit shy.

My suggestion is that before the kids watch this film, you talk about the events surrounding the Great Depression and the effect it had on all kinds of people, rich and poor. Since the film talks about the hobos, it's a good idea to talk about the migrants of the Depression, why they had become homeless, the desperate straits they fell into, and the prejudice they faced.

Although some of the subject matter may seem heavy and depressing, the film is not at all depressing. It's actually quite uplifting and even funny at times. There was plenty to talk about after the film and the kids want to watch it again.

Mature elementary school students, both boys and girls, would enjoy this movie. It's both entertaining and educational, plus it includes lessons on honesty, compassion, patience and loyalty. Wish there were more films for kids like this.
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on November 13, 2008
I watched this with my 11,9, and 3.5 year olds. We enjoyed it. It was clean and entertaining. My 11 year old said it was not in line with the book, but still enjoyed it. It gave us a lot of topics for discussion. Based on the depression era, we were able to discuss economy, prejudice and family. Two thumbs up from us.
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