Little Women (2019)

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Little Women (2019) Movie Poster Image
 Parents recommendPopular with kids
Poignant, beautifully made take on beloved sisterhood tale.
  • PG
  • 2019
  • 134 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 41 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 102 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

A few kisses, several longing looks, two proposals. Meg agrees to wear a cleavage-enhancing dress (behind her mother's back) at a party.

Language

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.

Consumerism
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.

What 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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMarglenna December 26, 2019

Review from a homeschool momma!

This is a clean, family movie! There are no instances of crude language (not even a “crap” or “stupid”). I took my 9 year old and her 9 year old friend and they... Continue reading
Adult Written byJacolaBob09 December 27, 2019

Great Movie for EVERYONE!

I don't get parents who think this movie is a bad movie. Yes, it's confusing when the timeline is back and forth, but if you look outside the book, th... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bysofiyap07 December 26, 2019

Good, might be hard to follow for younger kids

Good movie, but hard to follow if you haven’t read the book. It is also very long so I recommend the movie for older kids who have read the book or really like... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old May 15, 2020
I think this is a really good movie for the family. The reason I put 6+ is because there are some parts that are not appropriate for little kids.
SPOILER: A l... Continue reading

What's the story?

Director Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel LITTLE WOMEN follows the story of the four March sisters as Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) reflects upon her life. In flashbacks, aspiring author Jo and her sisters -- responsible and lovely Meg (Emma Watson), quiet and musical Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and impulsive and artistic Amy (Florence Pugh) -- welcome their new neighbor, Laurie (Timothée Chalamet), into their creative inner circle as they help their Marmee (Laura Dern) hold down the homestead while their father (Bob Odenkirk) serves in the Civil War. As the years pass, Jo yearns for professional and personal freedom, even though her sisters don't share her ambitions, and best friend Laurie wishes they had a future together.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about gender roles and how they're explored in Little Women. Why does Aunt March say that only marrying well can save the family? Why is she an exception? How did the 19th century limit women's roles outside the home?

  • Which characters are role models, and why? How do they exhibit compassion, empathy, and curiosity? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Gerwig based her adaptation on the original story but also includes other aspects of author Alcott's life. What's memorable about the new adaptation? What messages are most strongly conveyed? How does this adaptation compare to other film versions?

  • Those who haven't read the book: Does the movie make you want to pick up the novel? Those who have read it: How well does this version capture the spirit of the source material?

  • Discuss how each March sister's choices and interests differ, despite the fact that they were all raised in the same family. How realistic are their various stories? Which sister do you most identify with, and why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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