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DVD Review: Samantha: An American Girl Holiday

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If there is one thing that all three of my girls are sure to love for the holidays, it is anything to do with American Girl dolls. Unlike some of their other crazes, this is one I can really get on board with. The combination of great entertainment with an educational element is every parent’s dream. The Samantha: An American Girl Holiday DVD lives up to this standard.

Set in New York in 1904, Samantha Parkington (AnnaSophia Robb) goes to live with her “Grandmary” Edwards (Mia Farrow) after the death of her parents.  Grandmary wants Samantha to grow up to be a proper Victorian lady, although Samantha is a pretty rough-and-tumble girl when left to her own devices.  Samantha may have had a lonely life if it weren’t for the arrival of a family of servants next door.  This family has three girls, one of whom, Nellie, is Samantha’s age. 

As Samantha and Nellie’s friendship develops, Samantha starts to learn about the significance of class differences.  Her world is further broadened when her favorite Uncle Gard (Jordan Bridges) arrives with a surprise: he is going to marry Cornelia, a suffragette.  As Samantha gets to know Cornelia better, she is inspired herself to reach out to help the plight of others, including friend Nellie who has been taken to an orphanage.

My eight-year-old especially loved this movie.  Some of the themes were a little advanced for my children (five and three years old). While it may not be box-office quality filming, I would say that the quality is good enough for its target audience.  My kids are not watching for the subtleties of good acting and directing, and  I am happy for them to have a movie that is educational as well as quality entertainment.  As a parent, I find it difficult to find movies that are appropriate and yet appealing to the broad age range of my kids.  This DVD satisfies all our wishes.

The DVD comes with a few special features the kids also enjoyed. One is a tour of American Girl Place.  Even though my kids have been multiple times, they still enjoyed watching the tour and imagining what they would buy for their dolls if they were actually there. 

The background information about “A Victorian Wedding” was interesting for all of us.  It explained many details easily overlooked in the movie itself.

Finally, the DVD includes a musical number from the stage show.  This inspired my girls to come up with their own musical version of the movie.  I’m sure we’ll be hearing that song for the next few months!

Overall, I am glad to have this movie as a part of our family DVD collection.  This is a great gift for any 5-8 year old girl on your list.  I’m sure we will be watching it together for many more years to come.

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