CommonSenseMedia's Review of Harriet the Spy

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ages 9+ | Worth Your Time

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Parents need to know that Harriet the Spy is a 1997 adaptation of the popular book in which a tween girl "spies" on her friends, classmates, and neighbors and learns a tough lesson on how words can hurt when her secret notebook is stolen by her arch-nemesis and read aloud. There's some bullying, especially when Harriet is ostracized by her peers; it's primarily verbal taunting and silent-treatment shunning but also chasing Harriet throughout the neighborhood and her getting blue paint "accidentally" dumped on her clothes at school. When the entire class joins in on smearing paint all over Harriet's face and clothes, she retaliates by slapping her arch-nemesis hard in the face, then exacts systematic and humiliating revenge on all her peers. In one scene, Harriet calls an idea "retarded." There are also melodramatic proclamations from Harriet and her friends about how a snotty popular classmate makes them want to go on a "psycho killing spree" and Harriet's aspiring chemist friend talks of poisoning the popular girl. The class is shown watching old classroom movies with titles such as Girl to Woman and Boy to Man. Harriet talks in a voice-over of how one of the girls in her class is "growing boobs"; as she says this, the same girl is bending over to pick up something off the floor while all the boys in the class try to stare down her shirt. This girl's bra is later hung from the school flagpole as an act of revenge.
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Okfor ages12+