I took my ten-year-old son, my nine-year-old grandson and his 8-year-old friend to see this movie the other day, and their response was the same as mine: geez, that was a pretty sad movie (even if the story line that moves the film is pretty obvious and silly).
Actually what they and I were reacting to was the expectation that this was a true childrens movie and therefore would be light and funny, but it deals with a lot of serious issues and has a fair amount of sadness in it.
Not unlike many classic kid movies, come to think of it. I don’t know if this is a potential classic. But it’s pretty well done. It’s got a great cast, headed by Abigail Breslin, the child actor from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.
There are too many great adult actors to list, and all the kids, though unfamiliar to me except for Breslin, do a terrific job as well. Which is a tribute to the director, Patricia Rozema, whose only other work I’ve seen was that PBS version (maybe originally a film) of Jane Austen’s MANSFIELD PARK, which I remember liking a lot.
The movie is set in 1934, the middle of the Great Depression (which is the root cause for most of the sad moments that made all three boys and myself get tears in our eyes). The director and writers (Ann Peacock for the screenplay, Valerie Tripp for the "Kit Kittridge stories") go for the look and feel of a movie from that era (except in color), so that a lot of the plot and acting are stylized versions of old Hollywood cornball humor and knee jerk poignancy.
But the sad stuff is never overwrought, to my mind, (and part of the impact of those moments is the obvious parallels with present times—home foreclosures, banks failing, money scarce, etc.) and a lot of the humor is actually aimed more at the adults in the audience than the kids (part of the reason almost all of them, including the mostly girls that made up the rest of the audience, came out saying the same thing: that movie was kind of sad).
If you have a child or can borrow one, it’s not a bad way to spend a few hours in a movie theater.