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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Messages include idea that you should accept help because "no one makes their way on their own," importance of overcoming obstacles, providing charity, offering forgiveness, writing from the heart, embracing talents and gifts, accepting differences, and celebrating sisterhood. Themes include compassion, empathy, and curiosity.
Positive Role Models
Marmee is a steadfast, loving, thoughtful mother who appreciates her daughters' differences, fosters their individuality, settles disagreements. She's a role model of community-minded altruism and kindness. The March sisters are generous, loving, kind -- even though they're all (well, maybe not Beth) flawed and can be temporarily self-serving or vain. Laurie and the other men in their lives are all supportive, encouraging, respectful friends, partners, and suitors.
Violence & Scariness
The girls encounter and help the sick Hummel family. Beth becomes dangerously ill with scarlet fever but recovers. (Spoiler alert: Years later, she dies.) Amy falls through ice while skating but is rescued. Amy comes home from school crying and with a welt on her hand because she was struck by her teacher. Mr. March comes home from the Civil War injured. Amy cruelly burns Jo's papers; upon discovering this, Jo grabs her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few kisses, several longing looks, two proposals. Meg agrees to wear a cleavage-enhancing dress (behind her mother's back) at a party.
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Aunt March insinuates that "going on stage" is the same as "running a cathouse" and that both are the only options left to unmarried women who want to be independent. Amy calls Jo's hair her "one beauty." Insults "savage," "foolish," and "selfish" are used.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Meg drinks champagne at a party, as do other young women. Jo goes into an ale house where people dance and drink. Laurie drinks his way across Europe -- so much so that Amy tells him to get his act together. Minor/background characters smoke cigars and cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Little Women is an all-star adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's beloved novel, directed and written by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan as Jo March, Emma Watson as Meg March, and Timothée Chalamet as Laurie. Set in Civil War-era Massachusetts, the tween-friendly period drama is a tribute to sisterhood, generosity, the creative spirit, and the importance of community. Although the film provides a nonstandard framing device for the story, it mostly stays true to the source material. There are some sad/tense moments, particularly when one sister falls through the ice and (spoiler alert) when another one gets ill and dies in a tearjerking sequence. Mr. March is injured during the Civil War. The romantic storylines don't always follow the predictable route, but you can expect some kisses and longing looks and a cleavage-enhancing dress. Some characters drink -- one far more than he should -- and minor/background characters smoke. There's a reference to a "cathouse." Although the story is set in a time when gender roles were more narrowly defined, the March sisters are all worthy role models, and their journeys demonstrate the core values they were taught by their parents. This touching adaptation could become a classic for a new generation. 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 beautifully acted, thoughtfully directed adaptation of Alcott's beloved story about sisterhood is exactly the heartfelt and uplifting modern classic moviegoers need. Twenty-five years after director Gillian Armstrong wowed audiences with her star-studded take on the March sisters, Gerwig offers up her vision for a new generation, with a gifted ensemble cast, lush and evocative period touches, and a framing story that focuses even more on Jo's creative ambitions. Gerwig even manages to handle the age-old Laurie problem (Chalamet's Laurie is even dreamier than Christian Bale's in the 1994 film) with more nuance than previous filmmakers. She's also the first director to make Amy (the excellent Pugh) come even close to being sympathetic.
Ronan is once again revelatory as she explores Jo's passionate, opinionated, and strong-willed nature. Dern is fabulous as the patient, loving, and wise Marmee, and Meryl Streep seems to be having the time of her life as the rich, deliciously judgmental Aunt March. Although it takes a moment to adjust to the fact that Pugh plays both the impulsive preadolescent and clear-headed debutante-aged versions of Amy, the actress is so good that it doesn't matter. Scanlen's Beth steals scenes with her quiet but powerful generosity, and Watson's Meg is beautiful and kind. The supporting men are equally impressive: Laurie's rich but sensitive grandfather (Chris Cooper), tutor/suitor John Brooke (James Norton), and Transcendentalist Civil War veteran Father March (Bob Odenkirk) are all depicted with great care. Gerwig's lovely remake is as poignant as its predecessors, and it's also full of hope for a better tomorrow -- one the March family believed in, fought for, advocated, and modeled with their values and deeds.
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.