Fame is fleeting. The internet is forever.
With more than one film and a ton of children’s books, Harriet the Spy is now officially a franchise. Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, made in 2010 for the Disney Channel, takes the classic character created by Louise Fitzhugh into the new millennium, with a blogging adventure for the internet age.
Teenage Harriet (Jennifer Stone, Wizards of Waverly Place) longs to be a great writer someday. In preparation, she spies on everyone she meets, learning their secrets in an attempt to understand the human condition. Harriet longs to become the new class blogger, but that means competing with the most popular—and most gossipy—girl in school. When Harriet’s dad, a movie producer, lands a deal to make the next movie in the hit Spy Teen series, this gives Harriet the opportunity to reveal all the secrets of the flick’s heartthrob star, Skander Hill (Wesley Morgan). Our plucky young heroine soon learns, though, that collecting secrets is one thing, but posting them on the internet is something else altogether.
What we have here is another “perfect girl” movie. Harriet is a gifted writer, her father is a movie producer, her mom is a high-paid business executive, she attends a posh private school with her best friends, and she has both a full-time nanny and a personal chef. So, yeah, she’s someone we can all relate to.
The key element to the character is, obviously, that she’s a “spy.” I wish I could tell you that Harriet is traveling around the globe battling S.P.E.C.T.R.E. or S.M.E.R.S.H., but she’s really more Harriet the Voyeur. She peeks in on windows, records private conversations with her cell phone, and so on. The actual spying involves kid-friendly mischief like sneaking around hotels, or donning a crazy costume to blend in on a movie set.
This movie has Harriet fall into the paparazzi thing. While she has the best of intentions at first, the whole peer pressure thing kicks in and she ends up in over her head, posting private material about Skander that she knows she shouldn’t. The movie has something of a mixed message, in that Harriet delights in collecting secrets and exposing the truth, and yet her own secrecy leads to her own dishonesty, which causes her whole world to come crashing down.
That leads us to another theme of the movie—dealing with change. Throughout the story, Harriet has to reevaluate the relationships in her life. She finds herself distanced from her friends. Then, the nanny, the person who Harriet feels knows her the best, finds herself in a new place in her life. This frustrates and confuses Harriet, who resists change in her life, and a lot of the story’s emotional conflict from that resistance.
But you don’t really care about themes and character in a movie called Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, do you? Mostly, the movie entertains. The humor is the same type of humor found in a lot of this kid flicks. There are excuses for the main character to dress in a funny costume, there’s a slapstick food fight, and a wacky comedy dance sequence. The biggest laughs, though are from the Spy Teen movie-within-the-movie, which is a downright hilarious spoof of Disney Channel kid flicks.
As the plot becomes too much for Harriet to handle, she has a heart-to-heart with her dad, and then a heart-to-heart with her mom, and then a heart-to-heart with her nanny, and then a heart-to-heart with her friends, and more. That’s a lot of heart-to-hearts. It feels like too much to me, but maybe that’s what fans of this series are expecting.
The DVD’s audio and video are just fine, which bright, strong colors, and clean, clear sound. The extras include an upbeat featurette, interviews with some of the actors and the director, a few deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and a trailer.
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars isn’t anything new, but it is passable family-friendly entertainment.