Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Review: "Little Women" (2018)


Little Women has long been one of my favorite stories. I don't think I've ever actually read the whole book, but I've loved several movie adaptations. When I heard about this new modern adaptation, I was intrigued but nervous ... after all, the dreadful The March Sisters at Christmas was a modernization, and after I saw it, I called it "the worst movie I've seen this [Christmas] season."

I needn't have worried—this is how you adapt a classic for a modern audience!



Sisters—and dreams—are unique in their ability to inspire, encourage and change the world. For 150 years, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has motivated women of all ages to dream together and celebrate family. Coming to theaters for the first time, a modern retelling of LITTLE WOMEN brings a new generation together with their mothers, sisters and friends.

From girls playing in the attic to women living with purpose, the March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—are committed to always supporting each other. Yet, growing up sometimes means growing apart. An aspiring writer, Jo leaves for New York determined to publish a novel. In the wake of rejected draft upon draft, her editor challenges Jo to write about something more interesting—her family. When tragedy brings the sisters back home, sticking together takes on new meaning. As Jo comforts her sick sister, Beth asks for one thing: a story. Jo knows the perfect one … by heart.

Starring Lea Thompson (BACK TO THE FUTURE), Sarah Davenport, Lucas Grabeel (HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL), Ian Bohen, Bart Johnson (HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL).




This version of Little Women is delightful! Though I was initially skeptical of Grabeel as Laurie, he ended up doing a fine job in the role. (He also had zero chemistry with Davenport and loads of chemistry with both actresses who played Amy, so it was much easier to believe that Laurie and Jo weren't meant to be.) The standout, though, is Davenport as Jo. She was absolutely wonderful, and I especially loved her interactions with Allie Jennings, who played Beth.

The story, though modernized, follows the classic fairly closely. It starts in the present, with Jo living in New York, trying to get her book published, with much of the story unfolding through a series of flashbacks. Meg, Jo, and Beth are played by the same actresses throughout (with the exception of one early scene where they're all young girls), and their appearances didn't change much at all, so I did sometimes struggle to recall just how far back a particular flashback was going. Each flashback does begin with a tag ("16 years ago," etc.), which is helpful, but it also would have helped if Davenport didn't look exactly the same in every scene from the time Jo was 17 until she was 29!

I'm all about the romance, and I've had varying reactions to the Jo/Professor Bhaer relationship over the years. Here, though, it was unquestionable: of course Jo and Freddy Bhaer belong together! It helped that this film spent a good deal of time building their relationship, and the chemistry between Davenport and Bohen practically leapt off the screen. Ian Bohen, you have a new fan in me!

At its core, though, this is a film about sisters, and the relationships are portrayed so well. I actually found myself relating more to Jo than I ever have before (because I'm a total Meg, normally) and thinking through some of the ways I've reacted to my own sisters. I cried multiple times while watching, and I was a wreck as Beth's death approached. The film certainly does a good job of pulling on the heartstrings and emphasizing the importance of family!

This is a film to watch with your sisters. Your daughters. Your mother. Your friends. While it's rated PG-13, it's one of the mildest PG-13s I've ever seen in my life. I would have no qualms taking my 8- and 9-year-old cousins to see this movie. I caught a couple instances of (very) minor swearing, a scene of teen drinking, and a makeout session that gets a bit hot and heavy (no clothing removal). Also, it gets my mom's seal of approval, and she's a much tougher critic than I am! The film opens nationwide this Friday, September 28. Go see it! You won't regret it. 4-1/2 stars.

Visit the film's website. (There are a couple of really fun quizzes you can take: apparently I really am Meg, and my soulmate is Papa March 🤣.)
Buy tickets to the movie.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a screener of this movie for review through Icon Media Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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