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Parents' Guide to

Little Women (2019)

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Poignant, beautifully made take on beloved sisterhood tale.

Movie PG 2019 134 minutes
Little Women (2019) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 51 parent reviews

age 13+

Not quite a good adaptation

The only reason to adapt a book over and over again (in my opinion) is to remedy the mistakes of previous adaptations, or put more of the novel into the movie, whether in terms of substance or spirit. This film had neither. Like so many motion pictures today, the product seems to be produced with only one objective in mind- money. And how to earn that? Throw together what seem to be the most popular director, actors and screenwriters in a bowl and hope that something 'good' comes out of this muddle. What is most disappointing (hence the two stars), is that this could have been a comprehensive adaptation of the complete novel. Yet the casting didn't hit the mark from the get-go: everyone is talking about how sympathetic Amy comes out in this adaptation, yet I can hardly agree. The casting of an older actress as a young, petulant child only makes her seem incredibly immature, and little to no attention is given to her actual age as in the book. The actress who played Jo would have been ideal for Amy, and the one playing Meg looked like the youngest of them all. Beth just got lost in the mix, having even lesser of a personality than in the book. Laurie seemed incapable of aging, and the other male characters come off as flat caricatures. Another major aspect of the book that isn't highlighted in this adaptation is the spirituality of the whole March family. I understand that 'God' is considered a taboo subject in cinema today, but if you wanted a godless story, there are plenty of options out there that could have been adapted. Instead, the makers choose to blatantly show their contempt for the religion of the Marches, notably in one scene when Jo mockingly states to a sick Beth's submissive prayers that 'Jo's will shall be done'- a line that would have been considered blasphemous in Alcott's time. Which brings me to another problem with this adaptation- a selling point so proudly hailed in promoting this film was how much 'respect' had been accorded to Louisa May Alcott's wishes for the ending of 'Little Women' vis a vis the marriage of Jo to Mr. Bhaer. If the producers were truly so concerned in honouring her, why wait till the very last second in the movie to exact her wishes. There is no indication previously that Jo ends up alone- and why must the 'happier' ending occur only in concurrence with her not getting her dreams fulfilled? And if Mr. Bhaer indeed did not propose to Jo following a mad dash to the railway station, at which point exactly did this alternative fictional narrative begin? The ambiguous ending works best if there is a clear fork in the story suggesting one of two outcomes- in the case of this adaptation, it is a useless insert that only serves to make 'Little Women' seem edgy (as if it ever needed it). The story of 'Little Women' works so well- and has remained embedded in people's hearts so long- for one main reason: it is pretty much the only classic out there that treats young women as human beings, while even the more progressive novels of the 1800s build up to that conclusion. In Alcott's novel, it's on page one- these are people, who happen to be girls, having the typical thoughts and feelings of anyone making their way through life. But wait- there's a hurdle presented by the outside world which believes that women have a certain place in the world. Never mind that, say the girls' parents; there are different goals each must pursue, simply because no two people are alike. So pursue them- these 'palace beautifuls', but also strive to be good human beings. Learn and practice the qualities of courage, self-control, kindness and generosity, because these characteristics are essential for becoming a good person, no matter your gender, and if the outside world tells you that it's just an outline of the perfect woman, disregard those statements because all good people are alike. It is a pity that this adaptation has ultimately ignored the very pathos of Louisa May Alcott's beloved novel- the pursuit of one's dreams without sacrificing one's moral principles- simply to make a story that is comparatively diminutive in its message, and in certain moments, works wholly against the spirit of the novel.
age 10+

My Least Favorite Version

The Little Women story will always be exceptional, and worth reading and watching, but this version was very disappointing. The script and editing was very poor, giving me the impression that middle-or high-schoolers put it together. Much of the acting was subpar. If I were to NOT recommend a version, it would be this one, but I love Little Women, in general, far too much to tell someone NOT to watch this. On the other hand, if it WAS written by inexperienced young people, I would say, "Hey, good job,"

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (51 ):
Kids say (150 ):

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.

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