Photo by Dana Hawley

As Judy Blume is one of the best-selling children’s/young adult authors over the past 50+ years, it’s natural to assume that her various books would have been adapted many times over. However, save for a handful of mostly forgettable entries, both on TV and in theaters, Blume’s stories have remained solely on paper.

Her seminal 1970 YA book, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, has finally come to the big screen, and despite taking place in the past, its story is as resonant as ever. Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) is an 11-year-old girl in the early 1970s who, much to her and her grandmother’s (Kathy Bates) chagrin, moves from New York City to New Jersey with her mom, Barbara (Rachel McAdams), and dad, Herb (Benny Safdie), when Herb gets a new job.

Margaret is quickly taken into a friend group led by Nancy Wheeler (Elle Graham), who is obsessed with all things puberty-related, like getting her first period, growing breasts, and what boys everyone likes. Margaret, in order to assimilate, goes along with the fixation, with some reluctance. At the same time, she – the non-religious daughter of a Christian mother and Jewish father – starts exploring different aspects of religion, including her own private dialogue with God.

The reason it’s taken this particular book so long to be adapted is because the now 85-year-old Blume would not previously allow it. But it appears Blume was right in waiting so long, as writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig has made a film that’s almost miraculous in its empathy and storytelling. Taking a cue from Blume, who released her book at a time when its subject matter was far more taboo, Craig tackles the story’s tricky topics with forthright honesty that’s still family-friendly.

There have certainly been many movies and TV shows through the years that have dealt with puberty, but Craig sets this film apart thanks to the upfront nature of how the pre-teen characters talk about their thoughts and the humor with which the film deals with them. As any adult knows, puberty is a natural part of life, and Craig makes sure to treat it as such with no reservations.

There are big laughs that come throughout thanks to the period – no pun intended – details. Every realization that Margaret has about the realities of puberty, from the size of the menstruation pads to the discomfort of bras, is hilarious to witness. The production design also does a great job at re-creating the feel of the era, something older audience members will appreciate.

The religious part of the film plays a big role, and Craig impresses in this aspect, as well. Without putting her thumb on the scale in any way, the filmmaker has Margaret go to multiple different places of worship to see what they have to offer. Religion can often be a lightning rod, but here it’s dealt with in a straightforward manner, allowing Margaret – and the audience – to see the pros and cons for herself.

The adults are typically an afterthought in kid-centric movies like this, but Craig smartly gives them more to do than just be a support system for Margaret. Barbara is shown adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom, and her family backstory grounds the film even more than it already is. Margaret’s teacher Mr. Benedict (Echo Kellum) only has a few scenes, but each of them is impactful. The film's treatment of adult relationships is just as responsible for the success of the film as the kid friendships.

Fortson is darn near perfect as Margaret, infusing her with a wide-eyed wonder, enthusiasm, and sense of purpose. McAdams is also wonderful, turning into an ideal-yet-realistic mother. Safdie initially seems like an odd choice, but he acquits himself well. Bates is a joy to watch, even if having her play a Jewish grandmother feels a little off. And the child actors are uniformly fun and interesting, especially Elle Graham and Isol Young.

Nearly every part of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret works like a charm, and not just as a movie for pre-teens/teenagers. Blume’s story has always been a universal one, and this gem of a film lives up to its legacy in every way.


Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret opens in theaters on April 28.

Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Photo by Dana Hawley

Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

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New H-E-B stores in DFW top this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. H-E-B continues Dallas expansion with 3 new supermarkets in the suburbs. Texas supermarket chain H-E-B continues its Dallas-Fort Worth expansion, with three new stores in the works. The retailer is opening stores in Melissa, Prosper, and Rockwall. This comes just as the chain opens a new store in Allen.

2. Country's largest hot springs pool complex coming to Grandscape in The Colony. The newest attraction headed to Grandscape in The Colony is a wellness spa-amusement park: WorldSprings, a nine-acre outdoor mineral springs experience, will debut in spring 2024.

3. Award-winning Mexican restaurant hits the jackpot at new location in Denton. A DFW restaurant that's earned national acclaim has opened in Denton: El Rincón del Maiz, previously of Garland, is now located at 1431 E. McKinney St. in Denton where it's winning over locals with its Tex-Mex classics and vegan dishes.

4. New burger joint in McKinney with chef toppers and full bar is a sizzler. McKinney has a new burger joint that is already lighting up the Collin County foodie scene. Called Loyo Burger, it's part of the Local Yocal empire, and is newly opened in downtown McKinney at 216 W. Virginia St. #102.

5. Pickleball-restaurant with chef-level food paddles into Farmers Branch. A new pickleball concept is paddling into Farmers Branch: Called At Fault, it's a pickleball-restaurant facility, opening its first DFW location at 2330 Jett St., in spring 2024.

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 best new happy hours

Where to Drink

Maybe because it's fall or maybe because we're just lucky, but it's an especially rich time right now for happy hour offerings, with five spots that have either just debuted new happy hours (or are about to debut). There's a chef take at a restaurant-bar on Greenville Avenue; a fun music bar in Bishop Arts; a chance to sneak into a upscale steakhouse in a Dallas high-rise; and a restaurant-bar overlooking a tranquil golf course in Frisco.

Here's five hot new happy hours for our latest installment of Where to Drink:

Quarter Acre
Greenville Avenue restaurant has a new “Garden Hour” happy hour program Tuesday-Friday from 5-6:30 pm on the patio or at the bar, featuring snacks, three for $11, such as the Watermelon Bite, Crispy Pork Belly with avocado whip and sour lime, Half Shell Oyster with kiwi bubbles and rosé mignonette, and Mushroom Croquette with goat cheese. Select cocktails are $8 including the Front Deck Spritz with Aperol, passionfruit, and bubbles; and Bumble Bee’s Knees with Ford’s Gin, honey, and lemon. Three bottles of wine are $40: Pierre Sparr “Brut” Cremant d’Alsace, Mahua Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2022, or Black Cottage Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2021.

Revelers Hall
New Orleans-style bar in Bishop Arts has a new summer happy hour Monday-Friday from 4-7 pm, with good deals: half-price food, $6 wines, $5 well drinks, and $4 beers. They also have live music daily, featuring a variety of genres including jazz, bebop, Cumbia, and Latin jazz. Plus indoor and outdoor seating, and now is the time of year for that.

Ryder Cup Grille
Restaurant-bar at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort — one of 13 restaurants and bars at the resort — has a new happy hour with postcard-worthy views overlooking the Fields Ranch golf courses. It's an early one, running Monday-Friday from 2-5 pm and includes some domestic beers for $6, house wines for $10, and Ranch Water for $13. Food specials include Parmesan fries ($7), a guacamole and salsa flight ($9), chicken tenders with Buffalo sauce, Deep Ellum blue cheese dressing, and ranch ($11), nachos with brisket and refried beans ($12), and Cobb salad ($12).

SER Steak & Spirits
Steakhouse on the 27th floor of the Hilton Anatole has a Social Hour Tuesday-Thursday from 5-6:30 pm with $10 cocktails, $10 wines by the glass. A new bar menu features oysters, beef tartare, and gochujang chicken, priced from $9 to $23. They also have two new cocktails: Fall Berry Bush with tequila, Chambord, lime, rosemary, and sage; and a boozy lemonade with vodka, lavender, dill, lemon juice, and soda water.

Whiskey Cake
A new $7 Social Hour begins September 26, and runs Monday-Friday 3-6 pm with cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Margarita, Daiquiri, and a CYOM (create your own martini) with vodka or gin, clean or dirty, wet or dry, shaken or stirred, with a twist of lemon or olives, all for $7. House wines are also $7 and beers are $5. A menu of bar bites includes Wagyu corn dogs, BBQ spiced pork rinds, and blue cheese kettle chips.

Famous doner kebab restaurant makes Dallas debut with location in Frisco

Kebab News

A big name in doner kebabs is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth: German Doner Kebab, famous for pioneering gourmet doner kebabs in the UK and worldwide, will open its first location in Frisco, at 12025 E. University Dr. #100.

According to a release, it'll open on September 25, with seating for 77, making it the brand’s largest North American restaurant in terms of capacity.

Doner kebabs are a street food, centered on meat cooked on a rotating vertical spit. The name comes from two Turkish words: 'Doner' meaning rotate, and 'Kebap' meaning grilled meat. It's similar to a gyro, but döner meat is made from lamb or pork, while gyros are lamb or chicken.

German Doner Kebab, abbreviated GDK, is known for its distinctive waffle bread, in which the pita-like bread is imprinted with a waffle pattern. The company opened its first restaurant in Berlin in 1989 and is headquartered in Scotland. There are now 100-plus locations across UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

They made their U.S. debut in 2021 and have locations in New Jersey, Astoria, Queens, New York, and Sugar Land, Texas, outside Houston, which opened in 2022.

Their menu features doner kebabs made with toasted waffle bread, halal meat, vegetables, and signature sauces. GDK locations have an open kitchen so you can see the food being prepared to order.

In addition to the waffle bread, you can get the doner as a wrap, a panini, or in quesadilla form. Other items include a burger topped with Doritos and cheese sauce - like chips & salsa on top of doner meat, but all inside a bun; a black bean veggie burger; spring rolls; jalapeno poppers; and fries in a quartet of options including cheese fries, flaming fries, and curry fries.

“Many Americans are familiar with gyro, shawarma, and shish kebabs, however our ‘doner kebabs’ will be a new experience in both taste and format to most," says GDK North America managing director Nigel Belton in a statement.