“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” (Lionsgate)

Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret Simon, Amari Price as Janie Loomis, Elle Graham as Nancy Wheeler, and Katherine Kupferer as Gretchen Potter in "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret." (Lionsgate). OSV News classification, A-III – adults. (OSV News photo/Dana Hawley, Lionsgate)

Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig’s adaptation of Judy Blume’s 1970 novel for adolescents follows the sixth-grader of the title (Abby Ryder Fortson) as, with the help of her caring parents (Rachel McAdams and Benny Safdie), she reluctantly adjusts to a new hometown, school and set of friends (most prominently Elle Graham) while also coping with the absence of her formerly nearby paternal grandmother (Kathy Bates). Despite being raised with no religion due to the family conflicts that resulted from mom and dad’s interfaith marriage, she nurtures a secret, informal prayer life through which she seeks divine assistance not only with the outward changes she is experiencing but with the challenges of puberty as well.

There’s plenty of clever comedy in this wry coming-of-age tale. But its humorously frank treatment of anatomical and biological development, together with the narrative’s apparent favoring of do-it-yourself spirituality over either Judaism or Christianity as a formal affiliation make this dicey material for unguided youngsters, though possibly a good starting point for an intergenerational discussion.

Mature themes, including teen sensuality and menstruation, occasional sexual references, a couple of profanities, numerous milder oaths. The OSV News classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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