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DVD Review: Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Posted on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 3:45 PM by Scott Jentsch

Front Cover ArtworkKit Kittredge: An American Girl
DVD
New Line Cinema
100 Minutes

List Price: $28.98 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

Available 10/28/2008

Rated G

Click here for additional movie details, including the full plot summary, cast listing, trailers and videos, photos, reviews of the movie, and links to the official movie web site and more.

 TheatricalThis Disc
Video Format:
35mm 480i MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1 1.78:1 Notice!
Audio:

Dolby Digital
DTS Digital
SDDS

Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital 5.1

Other: 

Movie: DVD-5

Disc 1 Contents

  • Upfront Ad: American Girl of the Year
  • Movie
  • Extras
    • DVD-ROM PC Extras
      • Becoming an American Girl: Casting (13:55)
      • Kit Kittredge: An American Girl: HBO First Look (14:33)
      • Additional Scenes (4:24)
    • Trailers for the American Girl TV Movies
      • American Girl: Felicity (SD)
      • American Girl: Molly (SD)
      • Samantha: An American Girl Holiday (SD)
  • Digital Copy of Movie

About the Movie

Abigail Breslin stars as Kit Kittredge, a young girl growing up during the Great Depression and facing the reality of the world as it flies in the face of her ambitions to become a newspaper reporter. When desperate circumstances befall her family and her father leaves to find work elsewhere, the boarders that her mother takes in to help pay the bills and save the house provide Kit with fodder for her journalistic aspirations. The theft of money and valuables creates a mystery where the hobos that are helping around the house are the prime suspects and Kit is determined to solve the crime.

About This Disc

This disc has two complete versions of the movie on opposite sides of the DVD; commonly referred to as a "flipper" disc. The original theatrical aspect ratio is (nearly) intact in the Widescreen version, and there is also a severely cropped "full screen" version for those that prefer to fill their old-style TV screen at the expense of composition.

We do not endorse cropping movies to fit TV screens here at The BigScreen Cinema Guide, so we will not review movies or versions of movies that have been drastically altered from their intended aspect ratio. As such, the pan and scan side of this disc has not been reviewed. For more information about the evils of Pan and Scan, please see our Help document titled "Why am I seeing black bars when I watch movies?"

How Does it Look?

Still from the movie (not an actual screenshot)

This movie is intentionally soft and sepia-toned, with a grainy appearance that is no doubt intended to convey the time period.

The limitations of standard definition DVD start to show when comparing some of the indoor scenes to the Blu-ray release. The grain in the picture begins to turn noisy on the DVD whereas it stays put on the Blu-ray disc. The difference is subtle, so most people will likely not notice.

One final note about the picture, which is the reason for the yellow warning icon in the table above. The theatrical aspect ratio of this movie was 1.85:1 and this release has the picture cropped down to a widescreen-TV-matching aspect ratio of 1.78:1. While that only represents less than a 4% loss of picture composition (unless it was open-matted to gain extra height from the original negative), I'd prefer it if movie studios didn't modify the composition of their movies on Blu-ray or DVD.

How Does it Sound?

While this is not a movie that you're going to use to show off your surround system, the dialogue is clear and there is some use of the surrounds to provide ambience to most scenes. Given the type of movie that this is, the lack of a dynamic soundtrack is understandable.

Extras

I like to see the theatrical trailer included with movies, so I was disappointed that one wasn't included on this disc. What we do have are trailers for the made-for-TV American Girl movies that are available on DVD.

When you insert the DVD in a compatible PC, you are greeted with the choice to go to the DVD main menu or to go to the DVD-ROM Special Features. This is the first time I've seen this sort of feature; where extras are provided on a DVD via the Internet. Given the choice of high and low bandwidth selections, the file downloads and is played through Windows Media Player. The quality of the high bandwidth 640x480 1.4Mbps videos was very good.

Since the DVD was just under 4GB in size, I'm surprised that they just didn't use a dual-layer DVD and place these extras on the disc instead of making us jump through hoops to view them.The only thing I can think of to explain it is that the extras weren't ready in time for the DVD production and this was a way to work around that.

This package features something else that is gaining traction among Blu-ray and some DVD releases, which is a digital copy of the movie. An insert in this package contains instructions to download a digital copy of the movie in both Windows Media and iTunes formats, presumably for downloading to your PC, iPod/iPhone, and Zune portable devices. I visited the web site address listed on the insert and then asked for the access code provided in the printed materials. I didn't install the movie to see if it worked, as I have no desire to watch movies on a tiny iPod screen, or even my PC.

Conclusion

This is a good movie for families, and if you have a young girl in your family that likes the American Girl series, she will enjoy it especially. Abigail Breslin nails a performance that carries the movie, and the look and feel of the movie evokes the time period well. As such, this will most likely get multiple viewings in your house and it's just marginally worth purchasing.

Normally, I'd like to see more extras on a disc to make it worth purchasing. Such extras reward those who choose to purchase instead of rent and it allows them to get more enjoyment from the title that goes past just watching the movie. If you can get it at a good price, this DVD is worth purchasing if you have an American Girl fan in your house.

Recommended Reading

Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the disc.

RentBuy


Check Prices on Amazon.com



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