Harriet the Spy

  • Film
  • Family and kids
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Adapted from Louise Fitzhugh's 1964 novel about a determined 11-year-old, this primary-coloured piece is a sweet but flawed take on the inspirational children's film. Harriet (Trachtenberg) is indeed a spy - self-employed - roaming the neighbourhood, observing life in all its multi-cultural glory, and taking comprehensive readings in her private notebook. She wants to remember everything, because she's going to be a writer. Meet her world: best friends Janie (Lee Chester), a budding home chemist, and Sport (Smith), a house-kid tending to his starving-writer dad; the rest of her class, including prim Marion, class president; her well-to-do parents; and her guiding light, nanny Golly (O'Donnell). That's the set-up. Pity it takes most of an hour, without proposing where we might be going. Much of the Nickelodeon-assembled cast and crew share a background in commercials, and it shows: good-looking, insistently hip 'fun' - it's also quite boring. Then Marion steals Harriet's notebook, reads out her rather hurtful character assessments of all her friends; they take revenge; Harriet takes her revenge; everyone shuns her; her parents get worried and stop her note-taking; bad emotions take hold... and we have a story. Engaging dilemmas, solutions, experiences - great. And maybe it was worth the wait, but the wait wasn't needed.

Release details

Duration: 101 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bronwen Hughes
Screenwriter: Douglas Petrie, Theresa Rebeck
Cast: Michelle Trachtenberg
Gregory Smith
Vanessa Lee Chester
Rosie O'Donnell
J Smith-Cameron
Robert Joy
Charlotte Sullivan
Eartha Kitt
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