Updated: Nov 4, 2020
It's time for more AG movies!
This year, I've learned a lot more about how to make a movie, so I thought it would be fun to revisit the AG movies and see what they did right and wrong in the technical department. Today, we're looking at Kit Kittredge: An American Girl!
WARNING: THIS CONTAINS A LOT OF FILMMAKER RANTING!
What they got RIGHT:
Since this was a theatrical release, the budget was higher for this movie than other American Girl movies. And they totally used that budget well! The cinematography, courtesy of David Boyd, was pretty epic. The costumes and period themeing were cool as well.
That moment when Kit found out her dad was eating from the soup kitchen, which led to the truth about his job. Legendary.
What they got WRONG:
Unfortunately, the last point is where my compliments for this movie end. My first gripe with this movie is that it had barely anything to do with the plot of the books. There were a few references to events in the series, like the scene with Roger's chicken feathers, but other than that, it was nothing. I'm fine with movie/book changes, but only when they serve the film well...
And those changes didn't serve it well. The new plot didn't make sense whatsoever. The first half was "here are all these boarders doing random things", and the second half was some cheesy mystery plot that was totally predictable. It seemed like it came out of one of the books from the BFF Mystery Club series I wrote when I was in third grade- not an American Girl book.
The antagonists weren't interesting. They just were some one-dimensional hobo hating magicians who had no motivation whatsoever. A movie is only as good as its' villain, and if said villain is just some motivationless thief, it's not cool.
None of the actors really fit their parts. I know Abigail Breslin was nominated for an Academy Award, but they only got her because of that, I think. She didn't really get Kit's spirit right, or could act at all.
But then again, the script didn't get Kit right. She just seemed- different. Sterling just acted very comical the whole movie, and the writer, Ann Peacock, didn't get the essence of his character. None of the new characters were interesting, either, and they were unnecessary.
The script also didn't highlight the horrors of the Depression as well as it should have. Sure, there were foreclosures and soup kitches and feed sack dresses, but it seemed more of an aesthetic and less of the narrative. I watched Kit's movie right after I watched Molly's last night, and I could tell the difference between the portrayal of the two historical eras.
Bad script? Bad actors? Should I blame the director? The answer- yes. Patricia Romenza, have you read a Kit book? None of the acting felt genuine, and the music didn't fit. If Romenza read a Kit book, she'd direct the actors better. But she didn't. Dang it.
Conclusion: You know that saying "all talk and no action?" Well, this movie is "all production value and no true plot."
Old Rating (circa 2016): 9
New Rating: 4