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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Sisters model exemplary degree of sacrifice, caring, and love for their families and the less fortunate around them. In this idealization of Louisa May Alcott’s own story, family is foremost and loyalty among the sisters is on display throughout. Much is made of proper behavior, particularly as per the standards of the day set for girls and women. Jo stands as a contrarian in her rejection of ladylike primness, elegance, and decorum. Themes include compassion, gratitude, and humility.
Positive Role Models
The March family exemplifies generosity as they struggle with their own poverty yet still manage to share what they have with others who are needier. Facing a tight Christmas, the girls use money from their aunt to give gifts to their mother. Their wealthy neighbor also is kind and generous, giving Beth a piano. Marmee is a supportive parent who accepts her children and all their strengths and flaws. Jo's passion for her writing and her lack of interest in traditionally girlish concerns require she believe in herself as she bucks social norms.
Violence & Scariness
Constant worry for the safety of the girls' father, serving in the Union army during the Civil War, provides the backdrop for most of the movie's action. Marmee sets off to tend to the father when a telegram reports that he's in hospital, presumably wounded. The death of an infant is mentioned. Beth comes down with life-threatening scarlet fever and dies offscreen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Chaste kisses and much discussion of marriage. When young men stare at Meg and Jo, Meg objects to the tacitly sexual meaning of such staring. Fifteen-year-old tomboyish Jo disdains romance and rebuffs the respectful advances of her best friend Laurie. She rants when her older sister becomes engaged.
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Jo's use of "Christopher Columbus!"and "bilge" is as vulgar as it gets.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Little Women is adapted from Louisa May Alcott's classic story of family love and boasts a top-notch cast. The father of the main characters is off fighting in the Civil War. One of the main characters dies from illness, though it's handled offscreen in such a way that younger children may not understand what happened. The March family exemplifies generosity as they struggle with their own poverty yet still manage to share what they have with others who are needier. Family is foremost, and loyalty among the sisters is on display throughout. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This delightful classic treats the Civil War at a distance, but the sisters are depicted pitching in on the home front. The movie also acknowledges the fears that come with change, as Jo longs for things to stay the same rather than having the sisters grow up and move away.
Stylistically, the movie is a product of its era, with pastel-colored skies and heavily made up actresses. Additionally, the sight of the "little women" at the beginning of the movie being played by grown-up actresses is a bit jarring and really only is dispelled when the story moves to their adult lives and decisions. Because major plot elements of the book are left out entirely, interested viewers might want to read the original novel.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.