Are You There God? It's Me, Movie Rights
October 19, 2018 10:32 PM   Subscribe

Nearly 50 years after its publication, Judy Blume has granted the screen rights to her coming-of-age classic, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret."

Blume has granted the rights to producer James L. Brooks’ Gracie Films and Kelly Fremon Craig, who collaborated on the latter's directorial debut, 2016's The Edge Of Seventeen. Fremon Craig will adapt the novel and direct, and she and Blume will also be producers on the film.

In early August, via Twitter, Blume wrote that she thought "the time had come" for adaptations of her work.

Judy Blume previously on MetaFilter.
posted by Iris Gambol (28 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
The props department is going to have a rough time running down the antiquated sanitary belts.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:41 PM on October 19, 2018 [16 favorites]


I love the book. I read it first in 1989 or so. Even then it seemed out of date.

Is it woke enough for 2018?
posted by k8t at 10:42 PM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Chrysostom, if they opt for a period piece, they can borrow props from the Menstruation Museum.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:45 PM on October 19, 2018 [24 favorites]


Best pun, Iris Gambol!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:50 PM on October 19, 2018 [13 favorites]


I believe recent editions of the book were updated with "recent" technology.

Man. I remember reading about those belts with horror. Fortunately, my menarche came just into the new era.
posted by praemunire at 11:06 PM on October 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


While I love this book (I read a lot of Blume back in my school days. Devour everything was my motto!), I don't remember it really having much of a plot. Can they make it into an effective movie while not distorting it or its tone?
posted by hippybear at 11:06 PM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


yes, the update has Margaret using a peel and stick pad.
posted by brujita at 1:11 AM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's a cute book, but it's pretty dated, with its popular girls who wear their hair like Marcia Brady, who say things like "it's a scream!" and moms who play bridge and let their kids go where ever they please. I mean, that's part of the charm, I think? I wish it could be done as an early '70s period piece, but unfortunately it'll probably be updated with smartphones and social media and the like, and be less like Lady Bird (which would be ideal) and more like the unsuccessful Wrinkle in Time remake.

Let's see.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 2:12 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


The Edge of Seventeen was an amazing movie - it completely nailed how confusing (and terrible) high school could be. For some reason I never read any Blume beyond the Ramona series (even though Summer Sisters was suuuuper popular at my summer camp for a year or two), but I'm excited to see what this director can do.
posted by hopeless romantique at 2:59 AM on October 20, 2018


I love this updated cover.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:35 AM on October 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


The Ramona series was Beverly Cleary - which I point out not to nitpick, but to call out that she is still alive and 102 years old and I hope she lives FOREVER.

They're definitely dated, but for me part of the magic of reading Blume and Cleary books was learning about how different, and difficult, life was for kids in earlier generations. Horrifying sanitary pads! Woolen underwear! Scoliosis braces! I agree with suburbanbeatnik, it was part of the charm.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 4:03 AM on October 20, 2018 [19 favorites]


I want to attend a Rocky Horror-style screening of this, to which I can wear a MAVIS t shirt and throw Teenage Softies at the screen.
posted by apparently at 4:48 AM on October 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


Bonobothegreat, I'm torn about that cover design. On one hand it's clever and says a lot with very little, but... it doesn't fit the actual story. The tech does not exist in Margaret's world, but the revamped cover implies she has an iPhone and texts regularly, which doesn't happen.

Basically I'm saying for the love of all that's holy I want to see no cell phones in the movie version of Are You There God, but that's probably an impossible dream
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 5:36 AM on October 20, 2018


This book was so thrilling when it first came out - we passed copies around among us like samizdat until the layers of scotch tape could no longer hold the pages together. Our small-town library was woke enough to buy the book, but not quite woke enough to buy more than one copy, so those of us who had babysitting money and parents who would drive us to a bookstore became bookleggers. The school bathroom became an impromptu reading room, with knots of girls head-down over shared copies all through the lunch hour - you couldn't have it out in public in the cafeteria, where boys or adults could see you reading about this shocking book about (gasp!) periods.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 5:43 AM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


BTW, just to be clear, I've only skimmed through Are You There God. I just remembered (just this very minute) that the reason I never read it is because I read Blume's Blubber when I was 8 years old, in 1983-- my cousins in New Jersey owned a copy. I hated that book with the fire of a thousand suns, and I realize now it put me off Blume for the rest of my life.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 6:00 AM on October 20, 2018


I'm so happy about this because periods are A THING for girls even in this time. My peers' daughters are coming up on this now and even with all of the talk they are still uncomfortable with it yet still want it and panic when it first shows up. Padding bras is still a thing, waist trainers are a thing in certain circles, AND they could even bring in a to-spanx-or-not-to-spanx debate.

Even the religion storyline (Because of her unpracticing Christian Mom and Jewish Dad, Margaret wasn't raised with either and so didn't belong at the the YMCA or the JCC with her friends) is still relevant today as more people seem to be either ultra-religious or completely non-religious.

It's a cute book, but it's pretty dated, with its popular girls who wear their hair like [current YouTube star], who say things like [insert slang here I'm not aware of] and moms who [are so busy and overscheduled] and [aren't always sure where each kid is at each exact moment of the day].

Welcome to the world again, Margaret Simon. It's going to be FINE!
posted by kimberussell at 6:37 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


The Ramona series was Beverly Cleary - which I point out not to nitpick, but to call out that she is still alive and 102 years old and I hope she lives FOREVER.

My mistake! Looking at an actual list, I guess Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing and the other Fudge books were the only Blume I read as a kid.
posted by hopeless romantique at 6:55 AM on October 20, 2018


They're definitely dated, but for me part of the magic of reading Blume and Cleary books was learning about how different, and difficult, life was for kids in earlier generations. Horrifying sanitary pads! Woolen underwear! Scoliosis braces! I agree with suburbanbeatnik, it was part of the charm.

Yes! All of this! I had to ask my mother about the whole sanitary belt thing and I'm still kind of fascinated with how menstruation has historically been handled.

Possibly it's because I was reading these books when personal computers were just barely a thing, and so I wasn't living and breathing tech until high school -- I remember noticing the differences in books written in/set in the fifties, sixties and seventies, but still feeling strongly linked to them. I get a massive hit of nostalgia, looking at the original book cover, although that style of art was well on its way out even when I was quite small. They turn into period pieces (I'm thinking hardcore about Tell Me if the Lovers are Losers, although looking it up to check the title, I see it's much more recent than I thought!), so to speak, and I sincerely hope but don't much expect the same for the film. It could be kind of magical, but I guess we'll see...
posted by kalimac at 8:28 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I honestly found the book kind of a letdown; not the being dated part but the fact that I found menstruation the least interesting part of growing up, and it wasn't a taboo I needed broken. Now real sex ed/contraception info, THAT I could have used. But nobody dared let preteen girls find out about that in 1980s Texas.
posted by emjaybee at 9:42 AM on October 20, 2018


True story, I'm old enough that when my period arrived, I was attending a convent school, and sanitary belts were our only option. Thankfully, I'd read Are You There, and Our Bodies Ourselves, and so I was less freaked out by the whole experience than I might have otherwise been.

As much as I am a traditionalist about literature I loved as a kid, I hope they make the movie relevant to the current crop of 11 year olds.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:20 AM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I went to Catholic grade school in the 70’s and early 80’s and Blume’s books were our sex education because lord knows the school wasn’t going to teach us. I remember when Forever came out. The school library didn’t get it but I remember going to the bookstore and bravely buying a copy. We greedily devoured every Bloom book. In hindsight, spying on the neighbor girl with binoculars was probably not the best life advice.
posted by misterpatrick at 11:40 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Philip Leroy is a dick.
posted by brujita at 2:10 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


You think Margaret was sex education? Try (as a girl with no brothers) reading "Then Again, Maybe I Won't." I'm still not sure why he underlined the passages in the paperback collection.

And yeah, they're probably going to ruin the movie. She was really a goody two-shoes (as I was); I loved the church choir! Ooh, Lincoln Center with my grandmother sounds like fun! Hollywood won't care for that sort of thing.

(The Tiger Eyes movie, which never got a wide release, wasn't too bad actually, despite the characters having cell phones. It was thoughtful and quiet, and Russell Means played Wolf's father in the hospital.)

I hated "Blubber" too. I was exactly that age when it came out, and was all too familiar with bullying; it seemed just a bit too unrealistic even then.

Deenie would make a good updated movie--a girl who's defined by her looks suddenly has to find herself again.
posted by Melismata at 7:53 AM on October 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I hated "Blubber" too. I was exactly that age when it came out, and was all too familiar with bullying; it seemed just a bit too unrealistic even then.

We may not have been upper middle class kids living in Pennsylvania in the 70s when "Blubber" was published, but we inner city Milwaukee kids definitely bullied anyone who seemed the least bit different during the bus rides that took us to and from school. I recall (with massive shame) the girl whom we collectively decided was "stanky", had a stupid name (that coincided with a cartoon then showing on TV after school), and was much too old to carry her stuffed dog around (she was ~10 in 1977), so she must obviously be asking for it.

We laid into that poor child all year when I was in 3rd grade. My part was in screaming at her to "Get away from me!" when she tried to sit next to me on the bus, and saying things like, "I'm younger than you—and even I don't carry a stupid toy around!" to gales of laughter from the other kids.

While I didn't laugh when a couple of the boys gave her an... adulterated... can of Mountain Dew one afternoon, I didn't stop them when they offered it to her in mock kindness and she gratefully drank a big gulp of it. I didn't even have to know beforehand what they had done; I saw the can and instinctively knew. She spat out what she could and burst into tears, and then the bus driver yelled at her for screaming and spitting on the floor. Lord... I'm not sure if she'd asked teachers or her parents for help, but no one ever called us out on our behavior.

When I finally read "Blubber" in 4th grade, I saw myself in the title character, to an extent, and realized that what I'd done to the girl was wrong. My turn came when, in the next year, I was shunned once I was put in a different type of class than the others. I'd like to think that "Blubber" helped me learn more about empathy and to not feel sorry for myself when it was my turn. Kids can be incredibly, thoroughly nasty to each other.

The girl rightly didn't accept my apology the last time I saw her in the mid-80s, when she was ~17 and I was 15, and I've not seen or heard of her since. This book would make a good movie, too, I think. Kids bullying each other is unfortunately evergreen.

"Are You There God..." I read in the late 70s, when those sanitary belts were being phased out (I've never seen one outside of photos in a book, and I'm nearly 50). I was nowhere near getting my period or a figure then, but there were girls in my class well on the way, and it was comforting to learn through that book that we don't all develop at the same time. My guardian wasn't much help about any of this stuff. The emotions and fear that adolescent changes bring are most likely the same, I reckon, and I hope that the screenwriters will zero in on those things in the script, rather than today's tech and slang.
posted by droplet at 4:20 PM on October 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


deenie's father is the better parent.
posted by brujita at 9:27 PM on October 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Iris Gambol: "Chrysostom, if they opt for a period piece, they can borrow props from the Menstruation Museum."

BTW, I told my wife about the movie news, and she immediately made the same period piece pun!
posted by Chrysostom at 9:55 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, about that... erm... it's also your turn to take out the garbage?
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:01 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I keed.

Also, my comment was a riff on (read: partially stolen from) a "period piece" quip Robin Williams made to Penny Marshall while filming "Awakenings."
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:06 AM on October 23, 2018


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