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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.

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Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is now playing in theaters.

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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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Tasty restaurant news tops this week's 5 most-read Fort Worth stories

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. Fat tacos, crispy pepperoni pizza, and more Fort Worth restaurant news. We have lots of tasty restaurant dish in Fort Worth right now, including a new pizzeria, a new AYCE pizza buffet, and new limited-edition tacos. There's more than one fried chicken offering, and at least two pumpkin specials. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

2. Restaurant bullish on burgers and bourbon cocktails comes to Grapevine. A better burger concept from South Carolina is taking a crack at Texas: Bohemian Bull, a small chain founded in Charleston in 2013, has opened its first Texas location in Grapevine, featuring burgers and a full bar with 24 craft beer taps.

3. Award-winning Mexican restaurant hits the jackpot at new Denton location. 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. Fort Worth Symphony Opening Night Celebration ushers in new season with grace and gusto. Thunder crashed and lightning crackled outside, but a freak Friday night thunderstorm couldn’t dampen spirits at the Fort Worth Symphony Opening Night Concert and Celebration on September 8.

5. Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 9 best bars to watch college football. Three weeks into the season and college football is on fire. Here are nine of the best bars to visit for some college football-watching in Fort Worth right now - a mix of old favorites and a few new surprises.

Mr Gatti's Pizza returns to home turf Fort Worth with new location

Pizza News

A Fort Worth-based pizzeria concept has opened a location in Fort Worth: Mr Gatti's Pizza has opened a restaurant off Camp Bowie at 2812 Horne St. #100, a space previously occupied by Helen's Hot Chicken, where they're open with pizza, pizza rolls, and their signature ranch dressing.

The location is a franchise owned by Kirk Jefferies, who also owns and operates franchises of Jason’s Deli and Chicken Express. This is his first Mr Gatti’s, but he has more locations planned.

“When people talk about Mr Gatti's Pizza, you can see a spark in their eyes. We love being able to bring that 'excitement' and combine it with our passion for pizza,” Jefferies says in a release. “Mr Gatti's Pizza has been satisfying cravings for over 50 years. It truly is an honor to be a part of this legacy brand that people cherish."

Menu favorites from about a dozen pizza options include The Sampler, The Deluxe with sausage, pepperoni, & smoked provolone, and BBQ chicken. A basic 12-inch cheese pizza with one topping is $12.

There are lunch specials from 10:30 am-3 pm including pepperoni rolls and salad for $10; 8 wings and salad for $13; and a medium pizza with 2 salads for $15.

The chain was first founded in Stephenville, Texas as The Pizza Place, in September 1964. In 1969, founder James Eure moved to Austin and opened the first Mr Gatti’s Pizza, named for his wife's maiden name.

They have a major presence in South Texas but only two in the DFW area: Plano and Allen.

There was a location that opened in Fort Worth in 2016, at 3280 W. Seventh St. in Museum Place, which at the time, was the first to use the Mr. Gatti’s name; the chain had been going by "Gatti's." So many name changes! It closed in 2018. There was also a location in North Richland Hills which opened in 2016 and closed in early 2019; and a location in Richardson that closed in 2018.

Back in the day they had a big buffet as well as a big game room, two features for which many longtime fans are nostalgic. But this location is just about the pizza.

There are now more than 70 locations in states across the Southeast, including Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.