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Home » Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (2023) Review

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (2023) Review

This is a review for the 2023 movie “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”. Based on the hit novel by Judy Blume, this family film is reminiscent of a simpler type of coming of age movie. With stellar performances from Rachel McAdams and newcomer, Abby Ryder Fortson – it’s a wholesome treat amongst a cinema line-up of bleakness.

What is “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” about?

“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” is a book that was originally published in 1970. It follows the tribulations of Margaret, a 11-year-old girl, as she questions her place in the world. She’s worried about the fact that she hasn’t started puberty yet. With a Christian mother and a Jewish father, she isn’t quite sure which God she believes in. All of this against the backdrop of a new home and new school, as she tries to make (and maintain) new friendships. It’s very slice of life, and it could be said that not a lot happens, but it’s a very interesting look into the life of young girls, as they start to become women.

The movie does diverge from the classic book slightly, as it gives Margaret’s mother, Barbara (McAdams) a lot more to do. Barbara is trying to cope with her newfound life as a housewife, after quitting her job as an art teacher. She finds herself restless and not too sure what to do with herself, ending up dedicating a lot of time to committees at Margaret’s school. It’s a plot that doesn’t really go anywhere, but is carried along well by a very endearing performance from McAdams, who is just extremely likeable here.

As you can guess from the title, there are heavy themes of religion in this movie. We witness the joys that religion can bring – both in the comfort that praying provides to Margaret and the happiness of Margaret’s grandmother, Sylvia (Kathy Bates). However, we also see the crueller side of religion. Barbara’s parents disowned her after she married a Jewish man; and the movie’s final conflict centres around disagreements over religion. The story doesn’t take a firm stance for or against any religion; it takes a critical one.

Similar Movies

“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” is a great new entry in the coming of age genre. While most coming of age movies tend to focus on an age range closer to 16-18, this movie skew a bit younger – which definitely provides some uniqueness. In terms of similar movies, it seems silly to say, but one movie that I am reminded of is 2010’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”. I think Margaret has a lot more interesting stuff to say regarding society, but both movies focus on a similar age group with a lot of playfulness. 1986’s “Stand By Me” is another great coming of age movie with a similar focus.

In terms of coming of age movies with a religious aspect, Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides” (1999) does hit some similar themes. It’s much darker and mature than Margaret, but provides an almost contrasting view of the relationship that young people can have with religion. As you can imagine by the title, a content warning for suicide with this one.

For more great “Coming of Age” movies, check out our list of essential watches here.

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret (2023) Review

In an era defined by bleak, pessimistic cinema – this movie is a breath of fresh air. It’s simple and fun, while still remaining a sense of authenticity. There is a lot of emotion in this film and points where you may find yourself crying, but it’s optimistic. There are enough jokes, throughout, to keep a smile on your face.

As mentioned previously, McAdams and Fortson put on an excellent show. The movie hinges on both of them seeming likeable and authentic, and they nail it. The entire cast put on a very funny performance, while still being able to pull things back for the more emotional moments. Elle Graham, who plays Margaret’s friend Nancy, provides comedy gold for most of the story; but has a big emotional scene towards the end which blindsides you.

Like the book, the main demographic for the movie seems to be teenage and pre-teenage girls. As a result, it can feel a bit too simplistic if you’re watching as an adult. Equally, while the messaging of the book was bold in 1970 – it doesn’t quite have the same impact on-screens nowadays. There’s not going to be any controversy over this movie existing, which does take off some of the edge that made the book’s honesty so appealing. Overall, it’s a very enjoyable experience; but perhaps not the game-changer that it could’ve (or would’ve) been, if it was released earlier.

Did “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” flop at the Box Office?

This movie reportedly cost about $30 million. It doesn’t seem likely to make that money back, which would make this movie a box office flop. That’s a shame, given that it’s a quality movie and is coming out at a time where there’s very little competition for this demographic. What went wrong?

There are a few reasons why audiences may not have turned up for this movie. One likely reason is the marketing focus on the puberty aspect of the story. It’s possible that the focus on this aspect of the movie may have made older audiences uncomfortable and feel weird about seeing it in the cinema. It’s possible that giving more focus to the friendship, religious and familial aspects of the plot in the marketing may have yielded a better turn-out. All of this is against the wider context of studio comedies just not performing very well in cinemas.

There hasn’t been a lot, this year, for young girls – but, next week we’re seeing the release of “The Little Mermaid”. Is it possible that Disney’s latest remake took some of Margaret’s lunch, with parents opting for that movie instead? It’s certainly possible.

The main thing that will be keeping Lionsgate executives at ease is the fact that this movie probably has a very healthy life ahead on streaming. While it may not have got people out to the movies, name recognition and word of mouth should allow it to gain a second wind with more casual viewers. That is presuming they don’t banish it to Lionsgate+.

Who should watch this movie?

I think this is the type of movie that most people can enjoy. It’s light, endearing and you’ll probably have a good time with it. Yes, it’s aimed at women (particularly younger ones); but there’s nothing in here that men can’t also appreciate. If you’re a fan of family-friendly comedies, with an emotional core, then give this one a go.

If you’re a fan of the book, don’t even hesitate – you’ll love this.

This was a review for the 2023 movie “Are You There God? It’s Margaret”. Did you enjoy this movie or were you praying for it to end? Let us know in the comments below.

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