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Kit Kittredge: An American Girl(2008)
Aspiring reporter Kit Kittredge can't resist bringing home strays, whether it's Grace, an abandoned basset hound, or Will and Countee, a pair of young hobos willing to trade work for meals. Bright, inquisitive and generous, Kit is a natural born leader. But her happy childhood is abruptly interrupted when her father loses his car dealership and must leave Cincinnati to look for work. Kit and her mother Margaret are left to manage on their own, growing vegetables, selling eggs and even taking in an assortment of boarders including an itinerant magician, a vivacious dance instructor on the prowl for a husband and a zany mobile librarian. When a crime spree sweeps Cincinnati, all signs point to the local hobo jungle, where Will and Countee live with a group of their impoverished companions. Kit, who always has her antennae out for a good news story, convinces her new friends to take her to see the hobo camp for herself and writes an article that creates a sympathetic portrait of the camp's residents. But when Kit's mother and their boarders become the latest victims in a string of robberies, Kit's loyalties are tested. Will is accused of the crimes and, with all of their savings gone, the Kittredges face losing their house to foreclosure. Determined to recover the stolen money and believing Will is innocent, Kit recruits her friends Ruthie and Stirling to help her track down the real culprit. Together they uncover a plot that goes far beyond Cincinnati!
For more about Kit Kittredge: An American Girl and the Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Blu-ray release, see Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on April 29, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Julia Ormond, Chris O'Donnell, Wallace Shawn, Joan Cusack
Director: Patricia Rozema
» See full cast & crew
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Blu-ray Review
The American Girl debut is a technical disappointment on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, April 29, 2009
Up until watching this film, I had no idea there was a corporate phenomenon known as the American Girl doll line (which has apparently been around since 1986). The dolls and accessories are set during different time periods in American history and have spawned several book and film adaptations. The Kit Kittredge doll was released in 2000, along with a period book, set during the financial troubles of 1934. The story was chosen as the third American Girl film (the first two went straight to television) and managed to attract an all-star cast of well-known actors. Released to theaters in 2008 and directed by Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park), Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is a rare example of children's entertainment that has heart. I'm not sure if future American Girl films will follow suit and see a theatrical release, but I hope the filmmakers can at least maintain the same level of quality portrayed in this film.
Kit Kittredge (Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine) is a young girl with aspirations of writing for the local newspaper. Although her family once lived a life of luxury, Kit finds herself wrestling with feelings of embarassment after her father (Chris O'Donnell) is forced to close his car dealership and move to Chicago to find work. Her mother (Julia Ormond) decides to allow boarders to live with them in exchange for what little money and/or services they can provide. Among those boarders are Will (Max Thieriot) and Countee (Willow Smith), two young members of the local hobo camp. Kit develops a friendship with the children and even goes to the extent of visiting the hobo camp to see the people society has forgotten. After meeting Will's friends at the hobo camp, Kit takes it upon herself to write an article that will erase the incorrect perception that hobos are somehow not as good as those that are well-off financially. But before Kit is able to complete her article, her detective skills are put to the test when a series of burglaries take place and all clues point to Will as the perpetrator. Was Kit wrong about Will and his fellow hobos, or is there more to the story?
In many regards, Kit Kittredge is a simplistic story about an imaginative girl that learns to see the best in others. She is the type of girl that can be looked at as a role model by other children that may watch the film, and in that regard, this is a huge success. The film is rated G, which seems to be a rarity in childrens films now-a-days and I think most parents will find this to be a refreshing departure from the fart-joke/burp-gag films that have grown in abundance over the years. Nothing about Kit Kittredge is overly juvenile, so I think most adults will enjoy the time they spend watching this film with their kids. Wholesome family entertainment is a neglected property in Hollywood these days, but hopefully films like Kit Kittredge can change all of that.
As you would expect, the acting is uniformly excellent. With the likes of Stanley Tucci, Julia Ormond, Joan Cusack, Jane Krakowski (which any "30 Rock" viewer can appreciate) and Wallace Shawn (Princess Bride). Abigail Breslin is shaping up to be quite the talented young actress and I was surprised to see how much she's grown in the 3 years since Little Miss Sunshine was released. It was also fun to watch Will Smith's 8 year old daughter in her first real role as an actress and I'll be interested to see what the future holds for her.
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p and utilizing the VC-1 codec (with an average bitrate around 18 MBPS), Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is a largely disappointing visual experience from start to finish, with detail rarely demonstrating a high-definition experience. There are still occasional scenes that look considerably better than others (mostly facial close-ups), but the majority of the film has a visual quality that barely bests the detail present in an upconverted DVD. On the positive side, black levels are fairly solid (with the exception of a soup kitchen scene early in the film), with only a slight loss of shadow detail here and there. Colors appear appropriate to the source material, with a golden hue that gives the film a slightly aged appearance and I'm pleased to report a complete lack of digital imperfections such as edge-enhancement, artifacting, or the application of DNR. Overall, the visual quality of the transfer left a lot to be desired, but is still good enough to not be a distraction (especially to the younger viewers this film is aimed at).
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The sole audio track on this Blu-ray release is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Kitt Kittredge is loaded with upbeat period music that harkens back to the Depression era, but that is about all you will hear from your rear surrounds throughout the feature. Other than the music, dialogue is the primary component of the audio track and is located solely in front portion of your sound field. I don't expect the audio on a film like this to compare with an action film, but I do pay attention to the clarity of the dialogue and the presence of subtle ambient noise to create an immersive experience. Thankfully, the dialogue levels were appropriately balanced with the music, so I don't have any complaints there. Rather, my complaints are with the lack of surround use as a whole and the missing precision I believe would have been possible with a lossless track. Depending on the source material, a lossless track may not have helped with the use of surrounds (unless it was able to draw out more subtle environmental noise that was lost in the compression of the Dolby Digital track); but I do believe a lossless track could have offered an improvement with the music and dialogue. I'm less disappointed with the audio than I was with the transfer, but not by much.
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Presented in 480p with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel audio, the only supplements on the disc are a collection of 3 product placement trailers for other films in the American Girl series (with a clear focus on the sale of the Felicity and Molly dolls).
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I feel comfortable with a whole-hearted recommendation to any children between the ages of 6 to 13. Most adults will enjoy watching the film with their children and may even have the satisfaction of fielding some tough questions from their youngsters about the moral lessons touched on in the film. It's rare to see a present day film that is so willing to tackle the issue of not passing judgement on others, and I hope other filmmakers will take the opportunity to appeal to the intellectual side of our youth. On the downside, this Blu-ray edition is a technical let-down, and I can't honestly recommend this release from a quality basis. Those that already own the film on DVD, may want to pass on this "high-definition" release unless your able to find it at a very reasonable price.
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Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Blu-ray, News and Updates
• An American Girl Comes to Blu-ray - September 5, 2008
New Line Home Entertainment in conjunction with Warner Home Video have announced that they will bring 'Kit Kittredge: An American Girl' to Blu-ray on October 28th, day-and-date with the DVD release. The film stars Abigail Breslin in the first major motion picture ...
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