The publishing and merchandising phenomenon American Girl makes its way to the big screen with this handsome production starring Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) as a plucky tweener in Depression-era Cincinnati who longs to be a reporter. When her dad (played by a solid Chris O’Donnell) loses his car dealership and must head to Chicago to find work, she swallows her fear and rallies behind her mother (Julia Ormond) and their new boarders. A crime wave gives the heroine a mystery to solve and provides most of the comedy, but the film is stronger in its dramatic stretches. The edifying lesson—that helping others brings out the best in us—should sit well with everyone. Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park) directed. With Stanley Tucci, Joan Cusack, and Wallace Shawn. G, 100 min.