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"KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL"
(2008) (Abigail Breslin, Julia Ormond) (G)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor None Heavy *Mild None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor Minor None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor None Heavy Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A young girl, desirous of being a reporter, writes about her experiences living during the Great Depression, including her father moving to another city to look for work, her mother taking in boarders, and the lives of hobos.
PLOT:
It's 1934 and Margaret Mildred Kittredge, a.k.a. Kit (ABIGAIL BRESLIN), is a 10-year-old girl who dreams of being a reporter for her hometown paper, the Cincinnati Register, when not inducting new kids into her tree house club along with fellow member Ruthie Smithens (MADISON DAVENPORT). Unlike Ruthie's dad who runs the local bank and is foreclosing various homeowners, Kit's father (CHRIS O'DONNELL) is having problems making ends meet at his car dealership.

Nonetheless, Kit's mom (JULIA ORMOND) always tries to look on the bright side of things, even when Uncle Hendrick (KENNETH WELSH) thinks the family is living beyond their means. Of course, they're doing better than many, including young hobos Will Shepherd (MAX THIERIOT) and Countee (WILLOW SMITH) who offer to work in exchange for food, an agreement that doesn't sit well with snooty snob Louise Howard (GLENNE HEADLY).

When Kit's dad loses his job, he ends up moving to Chicago to look for work, while her mom has no choice but to take in boarders, including Louise and her young son Stirling (ZACH MILLS) who defends Kit from verbal taunts coming from Roger (AUSTIN MACDONALD), the class bully. Other boarders include mobile librarian Miss Bond (JOAN CUSACK); dance instructor Miss Dooley (JANE KRAKOWSKI), magician Jefferson J. Berk (STANLEY TUCCI) and later his brother, Freidreich (DYLAN SMITH).

While that somewhat extends her "family," Kit is worried that she and her mom will end up having to sell eggs, an act the girl sees as meaning one's hit rock bottom. Accordingly, she tries to pitch her stories to the local paper's city editor, Mr. Gibson (WALLACE SHAWN), especially when she learns she can get paid for any that are published.

With public sentiment toward the hobos, including Will and Countee who live in a "hobo jungle" with the likes of Shelton Pennington (COLIN MOCHRIE) and many others, Kit decides to focus on their story. Yet, when crimes start occurring and the hobos are fingered as the culprits, Kit tries to get to the bottom of the issue, all while hoping that her dad will soon come home.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Those who are fans of the American Girl product line and/or anyone in the cast might be interested. Otherwise, the story of a girl growing up during the Great Depression might be a hard sell for others.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: G
Presumably for not containing material to warrant a higher rating.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
Some late character revelations are not included here so as to prevent them from being spoilers.
  • ABIGAIL BRESLIN plays a 10-year-old girl growing up during the Great Depression who dreams of being a newspaper reporter and gets the chance due to a number of developments that occur around her. That includes having to deal with her father losing his job and moving to another city to look for work, her mother having to take in boarders, and some hobos being fingered for crimes Kit knows in her heart they didn't commit. With lots of pluck and perseverance, she tries to get to the bottom of that, all while being upset about her dad's absence and fears that they'll lose their house.
  • JULIA ORMOND plays her mom who tries to save the family home by taking in boarders and reassuring Kit that everything will be okay, even if she isn't positive about that herself.
  • CHRIS O'DONNELL plays Kit's dad who loses his job and must then move to another city to look for work. Once there, the number of letters he sends home starts to decrease.
  • MAX THIERIOT plays a teenage hobo who, along with Countee who he cares for, offers to work in exchange for food, but must contend with the likes of Mrs. Howard and the local police officers who don't look highly upon his kind, particularly when various valuables end up stolen.
  • JOAN CUSACK plays a somewhat flighty mobile librarian who becomes a boarder in the Kittredge home and is prone to driving over and through things accidentally.
  • JANE KRAKOWSKI plays another boarder, a sexy dance instructor who sets her sights on most any eligible male (presumably for financial security rather than companionship).
  • MADISON DAVENPORT plays Kit's best friend, the daughter of the local banker who's forced to foreclose many homeowners.
  • ZACH MILLS plays a young boy who befriends Kit, especially in light of the taunting she receives from others, including Roger.
  • AUSTIN MACDONALD plays that school bully who enjoys taunting the kids whose parents have lost or may lose their homes.
  • WILLOW SMITH plays Will's young charge who accompanies and helps him work around homes in exchange for food.
  • WALLACE SHAWN plays the gruff city editor for the local paper who initially wants nothing to do with young Kit and her stories, but eventually has a change of heart about that.
  • GLENNE HEADLY plays Stirling's snooty and snobbish mom whose disdain for hobos hides her vast disappointment regarding her marriage to a man who's no longer in her or Stirling's lives.
  • STANLEY TUCCI plays a stage magician who also moves in as one of the boarders and entertains others with his trickery.
  • DYLAN SMITH plays his brother who arrives late in the film with an ulterior motive.
  • COLIN MOCHRIE plays an adult hobo who lives in the hobo camp just outside of town.
  • KENNETH WELSH plays Kit's well-to-do uncle who thinks her parents are living beyond their means.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this G-rated drama set during the Great Depression. No profanity is present, but a handful of colorful phrases are, while a female dance instructor shows some leg while practicing a period dance, and a possible (benign) sexual connotation is present.

    A character strikes another on the head with a shovel, while some slapstick style material is present, along with some potentially imitative behavior. A few moments where the kids appear to be in potential peril might be unsettling and/or suspenseful for the youngest of viewers.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, and tense family material is present, including fathers going off to other cities to look for work, and worries about and the reality of home foreclosure. There's brief alcohol content at the end of the film.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Mrs. Kittredge, Kit's uncle, Miss Dooley and Mrs. Howard might have wine with their Thanksgiving meal, while others including Shelton later join them. When Mr. Gibson shows up for a moment, Miss Dooley tells him to stay for one drink. He says okay, since it's the holidays, but then wonders what kind of drinks she's serving, but we don't hear the answer.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Louise has a bad attitude toward hobos in general, and Will and Countee in particular when they arrive asking to barter work for food.
  • A student, Roger, has a bad attitude toward Kit's friend, Frances, mockingly saying that she's a hobo now that her parents' house has been foreclosed upon.
  • A pickpocket runs away from his latest victim.
  • Kids, and particularly Roger, make fun of Kit after her father loses his car dealership business.
  • A young newspaper staffer mockingly imitates Mr. Gibson who then catches him doing that.
  • Acting like the gruff editor he is, Mr. Gibson throws Kit's pitched story to the floor (but does later read it and is somewhat impressed).
  • Those opposed to stage magic might not like Mr. Berk practicing that.
  • Mr. Berk reads a letter from his brother about the latter being robbed by hobos (SPOILER ALERT) but we later learn this was made up.
  • We hear that Ruthie's house was robbed while they were away and hobos are blamed for that (although we later learn that's not the case).
  • Some police officers question Will, acting as if he's guilty of some robberies (before they know all of the facts).
  • We hear that the lockbox in Mrs. Kittredge's house was stolen.
  • (SPOILER ALERT) It turns out that some of the boarders in Kit's house are really the criminals and that they've set up Will to be the fall guy.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • The following may be unsettling and/or suspenseful to younger viewers, but probably few if any others.
  • Some kids may worry that Kit and her mom are going to lose their house.
  • (SPOILER ALERT) It turns out that some of the boarders in Kit's house are really the criminals and that they've set up Will to be the fall guy. When they're gone, and with Stirling serving as their lookout, Kit and Ruthie snoop through their room. But when the villains unexpectedly return, Stirling drops his alert whistle, thus leaving the girls unaware of the pending danger. Stirling manages to throw a rock (with a warning symbol on it) through the open window, and we next see the villains return to their room. One is suspicious, particularly when he finds that rock and its symbol, but the other has both of them leave. But not before a closet door opens, revealing Kit and Ruthie hiding in there (but the villains don't see them). When she has the chance, Kit then hides in the backseat of the villains' car, covering herself so that she isn't seen.
  • The villains chase Kit, Stirling and Ruthie (who end up hiding in a tree just above them), but the scene is played rather lightly (including through the score).
  • A hand suddenly grabs Kit, but it's just Will.
  • The kids try to hide in the hobo camp, but Stirling's sneeze alerts the villains to their whereabouts. Will then ends up struggling with Freidreich until Miss Bond hits the latter over the head with a shovel, knocking him out (while some hobos catch and hold the other villain).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Moron," "You're a bunch of freeloaders," "Whoops-a-daisy," "Holy cow," "Mr. mustache bald head" and "The magic is gone."
  • A pickpocket has a tattoo on his arm.
  • To get back at Roger for making fun of Kit, Stirling puts glue and feathers on the boy's seat, meaning they stick to the seat of his pants when he stands up.
  • A young newspaper staffer mockingly imitates Mr. Gibson who then catches him doing that.
  • Freidreich has a tattoo on his arm.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A hand suddenly grabs Kit, but it's just Will.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A bit of suspenseful music plays late in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Miss Dooley is a dance instructor and shows a lot of leg in a short skirt while doing some provocative dance moves (for the time, but nothing more than hip sashaying and kick high kicks, etc. and nothing explicit is seen).
  • After Mr. Berk states he's never levitated a mobile librarian before (referring to Miss Bond), Miss Dooley somewhat suggestively asks if he's ever levitated a dance instructor before. He says yes, but adds that it's a long story (some may view that as having sexual connotations).
  • Miss Dooley says she sews up her money in her "unmentionables," causing Mrs. Howard to gasp and the children to giggle.
  • Miss Dooley nearly always seems after any eligible man (flirting with them, including Mr. Berk and Mr. Gibson), but it appears more for financial support than anything having to do with companionship.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Uncle Hendrick talks of people living beyond their means, indirectly referring to Mr. Kittredge and his family.
  • Kit is upset when she sees her father eating in a soup kitchen.
  • Mr. Kittredge tells Kit that the bank took his car dealership from him, as well as the family car.
  • Kit is upset when Mr. Kittredge states he's going to Chicago to look for a job. She states, "We're not okay if we're not together" and she's afraid he won't come back.
  • Will states that Countee's father died from influenza in the past.
  • We hear that Mrs. Howard hasn't received a letter from her husband in a long time. We then see her remove her wedding band, supposedly to keep it safe from potential robbers, but the move is also symbolic of her strained marriage.
  • Stirling comments on the letters from his dad slowing down in their frequency (SPOILER ALERT) and we then learn that he wrote the letter that his mom just received from his dad.
  • Kit is upset (as is her mother) that their house is being foreclosed on, and that the former will have to give up their dog when they go to live with her uncle.
  • Kit is distraught that the frequency of letters from her dad is diminishing.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The Great Depression and all that it affected.
  • Foreclosure on one's home.
  • Hobos.
  • Newspaper reporters.
  • Uncle Hendrick talks of people living beyond their means, indirectly referring to Mr. Kittredge and his family.
  • Mr. Kittredge's advice to Kit to not let a physical object (in this case, her stuck typewriter) or situation beat you.
  • The language of hobos being signs and symbols to indicate various things, such as danger.
  • The comment that when times are tough, people like to blame someone.
  • A reporter's comment that sometimes they have to play the tune readers want to hear (rather than the actual truth).
  • Some police officers question Will, acting as if he's guilty of some robberies (before they know all of the facts).
  • The question of whether Robin Hood (and his stealing from the rich to give to the poor) was a good guy or a bad guy.
  • (SPOILER ALERT) The fact that Countee is really a girl.
  • Miss Dooley nearly always seems after any eligible man (flirting with them, including Mr. Berk and Mr. Gibson), but it appears more for financial support than anything having to do with companionship.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Miss Bond drives over some trashcans by mistake. Later, she does the same to a fence.
  • Stirling faints and lands hard, hitting his head. He then does this again later.
  • Ruthie and Stirling are tossed about the inside of Miss Bond's truck as she drives fast down the road.
  • Freidreich trips over a log.
  • The kids try to hide in the hobo camp, but Stirling's sneeze alerts the villains to their whereabouts. Will then ends up struggling with Freidreich until Miss Bond hits the latter over the head with a shovel, knocking him out (while some hobos catch and hold the other villain).



  • Reviewed June 11, 2008 / Posted July 2, 2008

    Other new reviews available this week include:

    [As Above, So Below] [Life of Crime] [The November Man]

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