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Film Reviews, Festivale movie section, a reel life
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Festivale Summer 1996
Harriet the Spy movie review, Jan., 1996.
I spy an American Mary Poppins

Movie still, Harriet the Spy, Festivale film review; Rosie O'Donnell; harriet.jpg - 10838 Bytes

Harriet the Spy has a child-protagonist and that means that for better or worse it will be sold as a children's movie.

Harriet (Michelle Trachtenberg) is in the tender care of her beloved nanny Golly (Rosie O'Donnell), an eccentric full of rhythmically-spoken wisdom for the would-be writer. A writer is a spy, a watcher, and if Harriet is to be a writer, she must observe and record.

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But she must also learn from her own experiences, and that is the hardest adventure of all. Harriet has good, eccentric friends. The littlest mad scientist - an engaging performance by Vanessa Lee Chester, the child-parent Sport (Gregory Smith), and more.

Trouble finds Harriet when her journal is taken an read aloud to its subjects. Harriet discovers that her comments, and her observations have a quality of truth that she had not considered - pain. And so she is ostracised. Her parents, now without the advantages of Golly's counsel, decide to forbid Harriet from writing in her journal. She is lost, she cannot write, she has no friends, her parents have no understanding of that thing in her nature that makes writing inevitable.

Ultimately Golly makes her return to put it all in perspective.

This film is about friendship and love, and about the incredible force of creativity. It is a voice that cannot safely be denied. Harriet needs to learn when to speak, and when to be quiet, and to censor herself for her own good, and the good of others. It is also a plea for humour and beloved mentors.

I missed the first 30 minutes of this movie, and although the distributors did provide me with an opportunity to see it in the cinemas, I didn't find the time until it was too late. This is a good film to take kids to. It provides entertainment and has good values. A rich and rare combination these days. I found it an interesting match with Grace of My Heart.

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Just the facts::
Harriet the Spy

Screenplay: Douglas Petrie & Theresa Rebeck
Director: Bronwen Hughes
Director of Photography : Francis Kenny
Editor: Debra Chiate

Players: Michelle Trachtenberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Vanessa Lee Chester, Gregory Smith,

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