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Harriet the Spy (1996)

PG | | Comedy, Drama, Family | 10 July 1996 (USA)
1:50 | Trailer

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Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. But when Harriet's friends find her secret notebook the tables are turned on her. Can she win her friends back and still keep on going with the spy business?



(novel), (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Janie Gibbs (as Vanessa Lee Chester)
Agatha K. Plummer
Teisha Kim ...
Cecilley Carroll ...
Beth Ellen Hansen
Nina Shock ...
Carrie Andrews
Conor Devitt ...
Alisha Morrison ...
Laura Peters
Nancy Beatty ...


Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. But when Harriet's friends find her secret notebook the tables are turned on her. Can she win her friends back and still keep on going with the spy business?

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


On your case!


Comedy | Drama | Family

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild language and some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 July 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Pequena Espiã  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,580,000, 14 July 1996, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$26,539,321, 10 November 1996
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Nickelodeon's first feature film. See more »


When Sport is playing with his dad, the thumb of the glove on his head is in front, but when he goes to help Harriet through the window, it's behind his head. See more »


Sport's Dad: [over ecstatic] Will you take a look at this. Huh? Huh? What do you think of your old man now, Sport? Ten thousand smackaroos! No more paying with change. No more, no more spaghetti. Going to feel like steak. And you know those fancy basketball sneakers with the, with the buckles and the Velcro and the crap all over them? Their yours, buddy boy, all yours!
[his phone rings, he answers it]
Sport's Dad: Hello? Murray. Hey, hey I take it all back. All agents aren't useless. Oh, I'm kidding you, I'm kidding you, ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, items from Harriet's spy kit (i.e. magnifying glass, flashlight, and compass) are seen interacting with the credits as they appear. See more »


Spoofed in Robot Chicken: 3 2 1 2 333, 222, 3... 66? (2018) See more »


All For One
Written by Egidio Coccimiglio
See more »

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User Reviews

A Film that never talks down to kids
16 December 2005 | by See all my reviews

I saw Harriet the Spy when it first came out and bought the video about a year ago. I had read the book back in the early eighties in the fifth grade and had never forgotten it. I always thought that it would make a good film (along with the Narnia tales and A Wrinkle in Time). The book was very engrossing and seemed a lot smarter and less condescending than some of the other books that wound up on school library 'recommended' lists.

The movie contains the same wit and utter lack of condescension, making it a rarity in the world of tweenage cinema.

Michelle Trachtenberg is very good. Her innate charisma and complete chemistry with Rosie o'Donnell make for perfect casting. Ms. O'Donnell herself shows once again how well she can carry off playing these quiet nurturing roles. (for another good performance by Rosie, see also Wide Awake)

Harriet seems like a typical albeit intelligent kid. Her friends are like real friends: they can be there for you and they can turn on you if they themselves feel under attack. This defense/offense posture is typical in a child's world. and that's what's great about Harriet the Spy. You never feel that the film is talking down to its audience or trying to present the child world in such a sweetened watered-down way so as to placate adults. Harriet and her friends have their little quirks. there's also the other kids who have wierdnesses about them that if we try hard we can all relate to. For instance, there exists in every classroom a perfect Teacher's Pet like Marion Hawthorne. There is also a Pinky Whitehead and a boy with purple socks. (probably me back then haha) the important thing is that the movie accepts their world without whitewashing or judging them for it. Those posters who felt that the movie was juvenile must understand that it WAS written for children. That doesn't however mean that adults should avoid it. It contains several themes that can be discussed and understood by anyone: Coping with school, Coping with Growing Up, Trouble with peers and miscommunication and isolation with parents and peers alike.

As i said earlier, The character of Harriet was well thought-out. They could've done a little better fleshing out the character of Janie. If i remember correctly, she had a somewhat larger role in the book. But they actually improved on Sport's role.

Some people have complained that the movie is disjointed and at times unrealistic. Well, try and think back to when you were eleven. wasn't the world somewhat surreal and disjointed? The movie is from The subjective lens of Harriet's minds-eye, an eye that see things with more than a little wit and imagination. Think back...then you'll get it.

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