Films at the Fox: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. lacks bite but is charmingly well-acted

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. is scheduled to be screened on June 16 and June 17 at the Fox Theatre on Queen Street East in the Beach.

Local student Brady Burkett shares his reviews of movies that have recently been shown, or will be shown, at the Fox Theatre on Queen Street East in the Beach.


I have never read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., but what I do know about it is the cultural impact it had when it hit store shelves back in 1970.

The controversy surrounding the book’s frank and unflinching discussion about puberty and religion was widespread, the book being banned and shunned by the more conservative older generation and embraced by the increasingly rebellious youth. It’s been referenced and parodied an uncountable number of times by other forms of media, and most people would know what you were talking about if you simply said, “Are you there God? It’s me, ___”

Thus, expectations were high when the recently released 2023 film adaptation was announced. Would it do justice to such an iconic novel?

More importantly, would the story still retain the controversial bite it once had in our much less conservative modern landscape? Well, as someone who has not read the book I cannot properly answer that first question, but what I can say is that the movie had all the hallmarks of a solid book-to-film adaptation. It felt faithful to the source material, even if I can’t definitively say that it was.

As for the second question, the answer is an unfortunate “no”.

Free discussion about religion and puberty has become far less radical and far more normalized since 1970, and because of this the movie feels, for the most part, pretty safe. The girls’ discussions about developing boobs or getting their period, which would have been shocking back when the book initially released, are now heavily destigmatized. The same is true, if not moreso, for the discussions about religion, which are so commonplace that Margaret’s parents’ decision to allow her daughter to choose whatever religion she wants, which is supposed to be strange for the characters, is hardly given a second thought by the audience watching.

So, if the story fails at being as controversial as it was back in 1970, does it succeed at being a charming coming-of-age story? Sure, absolutely.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. tells the story of Margaret Simon, an 11-year-old girl who is uprooted from her life in New York City and moved to New Jersey, where she grapples with making new friends, the changes she’s going through as she’s on the cusp of puberty, and her struggle to choose a religion as she’s torn between her mother’s side of the family, which is Christian, and her father’s side, which is Jewish.

The film gets off to a somewhat shaky start. The first 20 minutes are heavily rushed through, with the opening being so strangely edited that my brain barely registered that the trailers had ended. Conversations and scenes are rushed to give the necessary information and then zip right along to the next plot point.

Fortunately, once all of the characters and conflicts are established, the movie gives itself time to breathe and becomes appropriately charming. The actors all do a fine job (especially Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret and Rachel McAdams as her mother) and the story is appropriately small-scale, focusing on the likable characters in small vignette-like sequences rather than trying to craft much of a coherent narrative.

This being said, the movie isn’t great. It functions and is entertaining throughout the runtime, but a lot of it feels very perfunctory.

There isn’t really a recognizable style here, no interesting choices made with the cinematography or editing (which occasionally even veers into being somewhat tacky). This is exemplified in the soundtrack, which focuses more on playing popular classic rock songs from the 1970s rather than ensuring they actually fit the scenes they’re used in. (Why is Spirit in the Sky playing when Margaret is carrying luggage? Why is Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) playing after the mother has just failed at cooking dinner?) It’s also awkwardly placed into the scenes, cutting off in strange places and not being timed to anything. It’s another example of the film’s lacklustre editing.

That said, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. gets the job done.

At a runtime of 106 minutes, it never becomes stale or drags, and it certainly seems to have done a good job at reaching the demographic it was intended for: tween girls today and adults born in the 1970s looking for a nostalgia trip. If you are one of those two people, you’ll probably have a fine time watching it. For everyone else, I can’t really tell them to rush to see it. The story lacks the bite it once had and the uninteresting direction leaves a lot to be desired, but for what it is, it’s a well-acted, charming enough story.

I give it a rating of six out of 10.

The Fox Theatre is located at 2236 Queen St. E. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. is scheduled to be screened on June 16 and June 17 at the Fox. For more information on upcoming films playing at the Fox, please visit

EDITOR’S NOTE: Brady Burkett is a local resident and high school student. The opinions in the reviews are his, and the reviews are not sponsored or vetted by the Fox Theatre.

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