Kit Kittredge: An American Girl DVD Review, By Kam Williams

Kid Detective Depression-Era Whodunit Comes to DVD

This kiddie-oriented whodunit, based on the popular, illustrated children’s novel of the same name, stars Abigail Breslin in the title role. The story unfolds in Cincinnati during the Great Depression which is where we find the Kittredge family better off than most only because Kit’s father (Chris O’Donnell) has managed to keep his struggling car dealership afloat.

Initially oblivious of the economic crisis, the precocious 10 year-old visits the offices of the local newspaper, hoping to have her article on the Chicago World’s Fair published. After not being taken seriously by the tabloid’s curmudgeonly editor (Wallace Shawn), she turns her attention to more age-appropriate matters, like swearing in her friend, Florence (Erin Hilgartner), as the newest member of her secret Tree House Club.

Then, reality sets in when Kittredge Motors fails, and Kit’s father has to move to Chicago to look for employment. Meanwhile, just to keep a roof over their heads, Mrs. Kittredge (Julia Ormond) is forced to take in boarders.

There’s Lucinda Bond (Joan Cusack), a loony librarian who can’t drive straight; May Dooley (Jane Krakowski), a down-and-out dance teacher in need of a shoulder to lean on; and Jefferson Jasper Renee Berk (Stanley Tucci), a masterful magician with tons of tricks up his sleeve. So, this motley crew put on a lighthearted sideshow as the Kittredges adjust to life with a houseful of tenants.

The plot thickens when the city falls victim to a string of robberies, and Kit becomes consumed with cracking the case. Overall, this family-friendly adventure is reminiscent of the sort of fare for which Walt Disney was famous during its heyday. Given the pleasantness of the period costumes, the clean dialogue, the timely universal themes with heartwarming messages and the satisfying send-off, you have to wonder why nobody makes movies like this anymore.

Excellent (4 stars) Rated G

Running time: 100 minutes Studio: Warner Home Video DVD Extras: Movie trailer gallery and deleted scenes and other enhanced features via DVD-ROM.

To see a trailer of Kit Kittredge,