“The Great Depression hits home for nine year old Kit Kittredge when her dad loses his business and leaves to find work. Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin stars as Kit, leading a splendid cast in the first ever ‘American Girl’ theatrical movie. In order to keep their home, Kit and her mother must take in boarders – paying house – guests who turn out to be full of fascinating stories. When mother’s lockbox containing all their money is stolen, Kit’s new hobo friend Will is the prime suspect. Kit refuses to believe that Will would steal, and her efforts to sniff out the real story get her and friends into big trouble. The police say the robbery was an inside job, committed by someone they know. So if it wasn’t Will, then who did it?”
“Kit Kittredge: An American Girl” is rated G.
“Kit Kittredge” ended up being somewhat tolerable. The period setting of the film made the production design interesting. There are vintage cars, costumes, and locations. The Depression Era is something that most kids probably aren’t familiar with. However, seeing families losing their houses in this story may be eerily close to home to some girls watching it today. The cast of this film is also really good. It includes Chris O’Donnell as the Dad, Jack Kittredge (though he’s barely in it). Wallace Shawn plays the newspaper editor, Mr. Gibson. Stanley Tucci plays a magician named Jefferson Jasper Berk. Joan Cusack plays a ditzy librarian that can’t drive named Miss Lucinda Bond. They make the film worth watching. The young cast members are pretty good, too. Will Smith’s daughter Willow Smith is memorably cute Countee Garby. And Abigail Breslin carries the film well as Margaret Mildred ‘Kit’ Kittredge. She’s cute, energetic, and plays well off of the rest of the cast.
The main storyline of the film involves Kit dealing with the Depression as well trying to solve a mystery of a crime spree apparently perpetrated by local hobos. This is pretty good, but it takes a long time to get around to it. This film could have easily been 20 to 30 minutes shorter. It also tends to fall apart once the real villain is revealed. At that point the film goes from being somewhat reality based to camp as every adult turns into a cartoony moron. That probably made the villainous adults less threatening to kids and made it lighter, but it didn’t fit the rest of the movie.
If your daughter is an American Girl fan, then you probably don’t have any choice about watching this. Just take heart that you can survive it. If it’s any comfort, it has a monkey in it and any movie can be made better with a monkey.
Looking for bonus features? Then I hope you like trailers! Because that’s all you’re going to get unless you pop this sucker into your computer and watch the DVD-ROM features. It’s a bit of a disappointment.