SAMANTHA: AN AMERICAN GIRL HOLIDAY
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Based on the popular “American Girl” books and dolls, “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday” follows the story of Samantha, a girl who lives on a large estate in New York at the beginning of the 20th century. When new servants move in next door, Samantha sees past class levels and befriends them. However, when Samantha has to move to New York City with her family and the servant girls’ father is killed in an accident, they are sent to an orphanage. Samantha uses all her means to rescue the girls from the orphanage and from being split up for adoption.
WHAT I LIKED
This is a cute enough movie with very limited appeal to young ladies who are very much into the “American Girl” franchise. It’s not as ambitious as the “Kit Kitteridge” movie that was made a couple years ago, and that plays in its favor. By not aiming so high (and failing like “Kit Kitteridge” does), “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday” hits its mark.
There are some decent performances for the made-for-TV quality of the film. Aside from a surprising appearance by Mia Farrow as Grandmary, we get to see Annasophia Robb in one of her earlier roles. As an actor, she soars beyond most of her co-stars, giving us a sample of what will eventually make her a movie star.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The target audience for “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday” is so alarmingly narrow that I don’t see it appealing to anyone outside of the girls that buy the dolls. I like the idea of making an “American Girl” movie for each character in the toy line, but this one doesn’t have much of a reach.
Additionally, like what we saw with “Kit Kitteridge,” this film has a none-too-subtle subplot about women’s suffrage. As important of an issue as this is in American history, it does feel shoe-horned into the story. “Kit Kitteridge” took on hoboes, and this film pulls double duty preaching about women’s suffrage and the plight of the child laborers in New York City a hundred years ago.
There are three featurettes included on this DVD. “Mount Bedford News: A Victorian Wedding” plays as a news account of the high society wedding from the film. “All About Samantha, and American Girl” rehashes the plot with sketches and film clips, though it doesn’t really give any insight into the character of the doll beyond what you see in the movie. “Votes for Women: An American Girl: Samantha” features descendants of real American Suffragists who talk with a select group of girls today.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Girls who like American Girls.