Rachel McAdams and the cast and crew discuss why it was critical to preserve Judy Blume’s classic “Are You There, God?”

Thanks to Judy Blume’s classic chapter book, “Are You There, God?” generations of young women went through puberty chanting, “I must, I must, I must increase my bust!” “This is Margaret.” The plot follows sixth-grader Margaret Simon as she attempts to enter puberty while dealing with the turmoil of her family’s abrupt transfer from Manhattan to the New Jersey suburbs and attempting to figure out her religious identity.

The book was first released in 1970; however, it is only vaguely associated with that year. The long-awaited big-screen rendition of the novel, directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and debuted today in theaters nationwide, might easily have been set in the present day.

However, in interviews with Insider, Fremon Craig and stars Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson made a compelling case for why the film should remain set in the 1970s and how it remains timeless regardless.

McAdams, who plays Margaret’s mother in the film, told Insider that she identified with the adolescent protagonist.

McAdams, who plays Margaret’s free-spirited artist mother, Barbara Simon, in the film, told Insider that her preteen years were remarkably similar to Margaret’s.

The Oscar winner recalled various childhood events that paralleled the character’s, such as wearing shoes she hadn’t worn on the first day of school and “coming home with blisters and not being able to wear those same shoes for the following month.”

Margaret begs her mother to take her to the mall to buy a bra so she may blend in with her new buddy group in both the novel and the film. McAdams described her teenage years as “awkward,” and she, like Margaret, can only appreciate her mother’s assistance in retrospect.

“I’m thankful that my mother was there to help me get through it, but I wasn’t at the moment,” she said.

For McAdams, making and keeping the film ageless was vital since Margaret’s path was “exactly the same” for so many individuals throughout decades, and having that struggle reflected helped young people feel “not so alone.”

In a joint interview with McAdams, Fortson, who portrays Margaret, told Insider that she was going through the “exact same stuff” as the role at the “exact same time” she was on set and building the character.

The youngster, who competed over “literally thousands of kids” to get the job, told Insider that she, like Margaret, is still trying to figure out who she is “every single day.”

“I’m 15, and I know people who are 80 and still trying to figure themselves out,” she said, expressing the core of why “Are You There, God?” has such a profound legacy.

Kelly Fremon is a writer-director. Craig kept the film set in the 1970s to ensure that every woman who saw it felt ‘connected’ to Margaret’s path.

Fremon Craig is no stranger to boundary-pushing coming-of-age stories; her first feature picture as a director (and co-writer) was 2016’s “The Edge of Seventeen,” starring Hailee Steinfeld.

Nonetheless, she described the experience of adapting a book she adores as “surreal.” Fremon Craig reportedly acquired the film rights by writing an emotional email to Blume, who had denied any adaptations for decades, and the screenwriter told Insider she felt a lot of responsibility to get it right — for Blume, for Blume’s fans, and for herself.

Fremon Craig, a longstanding reader of Blume’s novel, opted to keep “true” to the original plot without updating it in 2023 in order to best capture the essence and atmosphere of the famous classic.

“I can so definitely recall my 11-year-old self saying, ‘I need to expand my bust,'” she explained. As a result, she made subtle parallels to the 1970s while simultaneously emphasizing the subject’s eternal nature.

“I think it’s extremely cool for girls today to watch this movie and realize that whatever they’re going through, females went through 50 years ago.” “Their mother and grandmother went through it,” she explained. “All women throughout history.”

“God, are you there?” “It’s Me, Margaret” is now in cinemas.

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