Big Picture Big Sound

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl on Blu-ray Disc Review

By Chris Chiarella

The Film

Broadening the popular American Girl brand of dolls, books and other paraphernalia into the realm of feature films, Kit Kittredge tells the tale of an aspiring ten-year-old reporter (charming Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin) searching for her first big break amid the turmoil of The Great Depression. The filmmakers do their best not to exclude all but young female moviegoers, exploring universal themes of love and loss, haves and have-nots, thieves, liars and the nobility of the human spirit.

There are a few tugs at the heartstrings along the way, but the heavy-handedness, over/underacting and predictability ultimately make this one a non-starter for the grownups, although I'll probably show it to my daughters in a couple of years.

The Picture

The 1.85:1 image suffers from distinct grain of varying severity. More than once, a face is the focal point of a shot but it's plagued by the swirling specks. Elsewhere, portions of the frame are downright blurry. Add to this the problems of digital compression and we see buzzing in soft-focus backgrounds, while the brick facade of a house can be positively squirming. Smoke is used quite a bit to add atmosphere, but its faint texture is not the friend of this troubled Blu-ray. At one point, Kit is talking through a frosted glass window but all of the artifacting makes it look as though she's standing in a steambath.


The Sound

So much for exploiting the benefits of Blu-ray technology: The soundtrack is presented in plain old Dolby Digital 5.1 format, which occasionally makes up for in eagerness what it lacks in dynamic range. Typewriters and telephones are active in the surrounds whenever we visit the newsroom of the local paper, birds can be heard chirping in a tree (or trees) behind us, and later a train bellows in the distance beyond the hobo jungle. The simple antics of Kit & Ko. don't progress toward a particularly elaborate climax, so there are no real highlights. The piano-and-string-infused musical score is woven in well throughout, and dialogue is always clear.

The Extras

Every review should be this easy: Trailers are provided for three other American Girl titles, namely Felicity, Molly and Samantha: An American Girl Holiday. These are essentially just commercials so we don't usually mention trailers as extras per se, but they're all we've got on this disc. Disc Two is a DVD containing a Digital Copy of the movie for iPod, PC and portable Windows Media players.

Final Thoughts

Despite an excellent cast, Kit Kittredge seems destined to connect solely with a portion of its target demographic, and are American Girls really the ones buying Blu-rays? At least the included Digital Copy allows them to carry it on their pink iPods.

Where to Buy:

Product Details

  • Actors: Abigail Breslin, Julia Ormond, Chris O'Donnell, Jane Krakowski, Wallace Shawn, Max Thieriot, Willow Smith, Glenne Headly, Zach Mills, Joan Cusack, Stanley Tucci
  • Director: Patricia Rozema
  • Audio Format/Languages: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rating: G
  • Studio: Warner/New Line
  • Release Date: October 28, 2008
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • List Price: $35.99
  • Extras:
    • Trailer Gallery
    • Digital Copy

What did you think?

View all articles by Chris Chiarella
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