Movie Review: Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret
I went recently with a friend to see the movie, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, based on the iconic book of the same name published by Judy Blume in 1970. My dog-eared paperback copy was passed around by all the girls in my sixth-grade class. We loved it. This beloved coming-of-age story about pre-teen angst spoke honestly and frankly about relatable topics like bras, boys and getting your period. It also delved into the importance of “fitting in” at that age and wanting to appear “normal”.
The trials and tribulations of the main character, Margaret Simon, rang very true to me in 1970. I couldn’t wait to see the movie all these decades later, though I worried a little about how the film could possibly do the story justice. Apparently, Judy Blume felt the same way, which is why it took so long to do it. The film turned out to be a faithful adaptation of the best-selling and critically acclaimed book. Sure, it was updated with a few modern references, but not many. Pads replaced the sanitary napkins with belts referenced in the book, but the hairstyles, furniture and telephones were all from the 70s.
The movie was very well cast and starred Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates, who played the mom and grandmother, respectively. Abby Ryder Fortson magnificently played Margaret. There were some very funny moments in the movie, but also some more serious ones. This movie is not just for young girls, And it’s not just for older women who read the book years ago. The lessons portrayed in the story are timeless and apply to males too. Highly recommend for families.
Lessons from Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret
One girl in Margaret’s class in school was taller and more developed than the other sixth grade girls. Because she looked different, Margaret’s other classmates ostracized her. They spread rumors and spoke rudely both to her and about her behind her back. As Margaret was new to the school and anxious to be accepted by her new friends, she went along with it. However, she realized soon enough how bad her behavior made her feel about herself. Toward the end of the movie, Margaret befriended this girl and realized she didn’t need to be friends with classmates who were unkind. This is a great lesson.
Religion should not be the cause of fighting in families
Due to family conflicts resulting from her parent’s interfaith marriage, Margaret’s family practices no religion at all. Each set of grandparents have strong opinions about their granddaughter’s religion and behave badly. Margaret begs them to stop fighting. Despite being raised without religion, Margaret confides her intimate thoughts and fears to God throughout the movie. Frequently, her conversations begin with, “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret”.
In 1970, when the book originally hit the shelves, fewer than 5% of Americans reported they had no religious affiliation, so it’s easy to understand why Margaret struggled at that time. Not having a defined religion was one more thing that made her feel “different”. Today, according to a more recent study from the Pew Research Center, the number of unaffiliated Americans is now 30%. Presumably, in today’s world, Margaret would not have felt quite as alone in her situation, though we don’t know that she would have struggled any less. Clearly, Margaret needed some divine support and knew even at that age that praying could provide her with comfort and support, even if she did not belong to a specific church, temple or mosque.
Did you see the movie? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!