Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - January, 2011


"Samantha: An American Girl Holiday (DVD)" - Reviewed by Jim Clements



This was the first among 5 made for TV movies featuring characters who are offered as a series of dolls marketed by American Girl. This particular film is about an aristocratic orphan named Samantha Parkington (AnnaSophia Robb) who is being raised by her "Grandmary" (Mia Farrow). The year is 1904 and the story begins with Samantha living at her Grandmary's country estate in New York. Grandmary is teaching Samantha to be a porper lady. A family of servants moves into the mansion next door. There are three daughters in the family and Samantha bonds with Nellie O'Malley (Kelsey Lewis) who is closest to her age. They soon become best of friends. Samantha and Nellie go their spearate ways when Samantha moves to New York City to live with her Uncle Gard and his new bride. Nellie and her two sisters become orphaned when their father dies. That is when the real adventure of this story begins to unfold.


  • Warner Brothers
  • 2004, Color, Not Rated, 1 Hr 26 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic
  • Codec: MPEG 2
  • NTSC
  • English Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Starring: Mia Farrow, AnnaSophia Robb, Kelsey Lewis and Olivia Ballantyne
  • Directed by Nadia Tass
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No


The sets and locations are quite opulent while the wardrobes are equally detailed.  Each is about as true to the period and region as I could imagine. The acting is more than competent: the strongest performances coming from Mia Farrow and AnnaSophia Robb. Concerning the plot, it is adequately intricate and the story unfolds at at a pace that maintains one's interest.  The two biggest drawbacks with this film would be that the story's message and the conclusioon are way too predictable.


This movie was previously released on DVD in a full screen, matted format. The disc I reviewed here is the new Deluxe Edition which has the video presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic format. I watched this DVD on my Oppo BDP 83 SE player on a a 50" plasma screen.  On this set up, the movie looked about as good as DVD can look. This colorful and brightly lit movie actually looked a little better than a lot of broadcast HD material. The finest details in the video revealed the quality of the wardrobes and the set pieces. The audio was a little off the standard set by the video. Still, the dialogue was clear and crisp, better than average for a made for TV movie. While the musical score and Samantha's piano playing both sounded compressed.


There are three shorts on the disc - "Votes for Women: An American Girl: Samantha", "All About Samantha, An American Girl: An Insider's Tour Through Samantha's World" and "Mount Bedford News: A Victorian Wedding, Cornelia and Gard's Video Wedding Announcement".