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REVIEW: ‘Little Women’ is fun, family-friendly and full of life lessons

The latest rendition of ‘Little Women’ opened in theaters this week. Is it OK for the whole family?

 

Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth Marsh are just like any quartet of sisters you’ve ever met.

They play. They laugh. They fight. They forgive.

Most of all, they love one another despite their differences—differences that include their views on singleness. And on this subject, Jo is the loudest voice.

When Meg wants to get married, Jo tries to talk her out of it. When a long-time suitor proposes to Jo, she rebuffs his advances. When a second man pursues her, she pushes him away, too.

Jo wants to be a published novelist—and she has no desire to spend the rest of her life with another man.

“I love my liberty too well to be in a hurry to give it up,” she tells one of the men.

Will she stay single forever?

The latest rendition of Little Women (PG) opened in theaters this week, starring Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) as Jo, Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast) as Meg, Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) as Amy, and Eliza Scanlen as Beth. Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) plays the mother known as Marmee, and Meryl Streep (Out of Africa, The Iron Lady) plays Aunt March.

The film is based on the famous Louisa May Alcott novel which has been made into several films, including a 1994 one that was nominated for three Oscars and a 2018 one set in modern times. This version is set during the 1860s, just like Alcott’s book was.

The movie mostly stays true to the story and spirit of the book and, thankfully, remains family-friendly, too. It’s thought-provoking, funny and just plain fun.

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!

(Scale key: none, minimal, moderate, extreme)

Violence/Disturbing

Minimal. Two of the sisters get into a heated argument. (“I will hate her forever.”) Later, a sister falls through a frozen pond and nearly drowns.

Sexuality/Sensuality/Nudity

Minimal. We see two or three kisses. Aunt March briefly references a “cat house.” At a ball, a few of the dresses display cleavage.

Coarse Language

None/minimal. Perhaps one OMG, but if so, it’s muffled.

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

A main character dies. We see characters drink alcohol.

Life Lessons

Life is like a vapor: The girls look forward to adulthood. But once they’re older, they look back fondly at their younger years. (“I can’t believe childhood is over,” Jo says.) 

It’s better to give than to receive: The girls, prompted by Marmee, donate much of their Christmas food to an impoverished neighbor.

Families have a special bond: The sisters have major disagreements but always forgive and support one another. (“Life is too short to be angry,” Jo says.)

Worldview/Application

Little Women is a story about life’s great blessings: family, sisterhood and friendship, among them. It celebrates the little moments in life and the big ones, too.

Its primary theme, though, spotlights the choices we make and the paths we follow. It is here that the women travel in different directions.

“Just because my dreams are different than yours doesn’t mean they’re unimportant,” Meg tells Jo when the latter belittles the concept of marriage.

The film gives us two endings—the traditional one that we expect and a new alternative ending. (Jo—apparently representing Alcott—discusses a new book titled Little Women with a publisher, who asks why the main character isn’t married. When she gives an explanation, he demands that she have the main character wed.)

Fans of Little Women often debate Jo’s attitude about life. Is she too independent? Or is she simply a woman of the future?

The Christian, though, must ask a different question when facing life’s forks in the road: What does God want? That’s the only opinion that matters.

Final Verdict

The target audience might be female, but Little Women is a fun film with universal themes. It’s one I enjoyed—and can endorse.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does Little Women teach us about anger, forgiveness and friendship? Could you have forgiven Amy?
  2. Should Jo have married Laurie? Which ending do you prefer?
  3. Which character do you most identify with?

Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Little Women is rated PG for thematic elements and brief smoking.

PHOTO CREDIT: Columbia

Author: Michael Foust

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and entertainment more than 15 years. He is the husband of a wife, Julie, and the father of four small children.

View more articles by Michael Foust.

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