Harriet, an inspiring spy, follows her classmates, friends, and neighborhood around to find the truth on their actions; but when she loses her notebook her friends find out and turn on her and create a Spy Catching Club it's up to Harriet to enact revenge! Harriet M. Welsh (Trachtenberg) is the eccentric daughter of wealthy parents and is primarily cared for by her nanny (who is Rosie O'Donnell). Harriet is an aspiring spy novelist/spy and goes through a daily routine (being one to love routine and primarily does the same things each day because she prefers order) of spying on her friends, classmates, family, neighbors, and even complete strangers in order to write down what she is seeing.
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Since her parents are always busy working since they're both wealthy, Harriet spends most of her time telling her secrets and having fun with her nanny. Her nanny, however, is fired after one night bringing Harriet back too late for her curfew. This sends Harriet into a frenzy of depression since she doesn't know if she'll ever see her nanny ever again and is discovered to be spying.
Continuing on a downhill slope, Harriet's notebook gets discovered by her worst enemy, Marion Hawthorne, and is read aloud to her classmates. Marion reads all the awful things that Harriet had written upon her spying on all of them, which causes even her friends to despise her. Marion and the other kids create a Spy-Catcher Club which causes Harriet nothing but grief as she tries to spy on the spying.
One day after having paint spilled on her purposely, Harriet decides to enact revenge on her classmates and the Spy-Catcher Club by doing awful things to each of them individually, and eventually is caught by the police.
Her nanny comes back into the picture long enough to tell Harriet that she heard what had been going on and that she needed to do two things in order to not get caught: She had to apologize and also lie her way out of it. Not to impose my own judgement here, but to lie more is an awful idea; but I guess when you live in New York City your moral code is different.
Towards the end of the movie she gets evaluated and told that there is nothing wrong with her, but I think because it was 1996 and not a time when Autism was heavily studied they didn't realize that Harriet was actually on the Autism Spectrum.
She ends up running the school newspaper and apologizing to everyone in the school through her newspaper articles which is a cheap way to apologize.
Best part of story, including ending:
I enjoyed the movie as a kid, but upon coming back to it and rewatching it as an adult, besides loving the color palettes used in the movie (which I'll get into next question), I really dislike this movie. I feel like it's teaching kids the wrong way to deal with a situation in which there is a bully who turns your friends against you. Harriet basically tells everyone in the school that Marion is the worst human being alive and ruins Marion's life, and then is praised at the end of the movie. I'm not okay with that.
Best scene in story:
I really loved all the scenes because of the color choices. Back in 1996 color probably wasn't the most thought-of thing when picking scenes in movies to film but in this case the color was beautiful in every scene. They seemed to use the color to depict the emotions of what was going on in the scenes around them. Blue paint when Harriet was sad, and there are a lot of beautifully decorated red scenes when she is angry and green scenes. It's crazy.
Opinion about the main character:
I dislike Harriet because though she's picked on and clearly on the Autism Spectrum, she's said to be psychologically fine and that it was perfectly okay that she called out the fact that Marion's family never loved her. This is a wake up call and alert for anyone to realize that enacting revenge is not the way to go about in the world and Harriet did just that and it was uncalled for. Especially since it can be debated that Harriet's parents don't love her either. At least not as much as her nanny did and they fired her.