It’s rare for The Girl, who is, after all, only 2, to really get into these grown-up movies for kids. So it’s even more rare for both her and The Boy to both love the same grown up movie. So, this one is a real gem: Little Women. In this review, I’m talking about the version with Wynona Ryder, because it’s on cable all the time, but the version with June Allyson is delightful too.
Let’s go through our list of things that frighten people off from showing grown up movies to their kids: Sex, nope. Swearing: nope. Violence: nope. It doesn’t get any more sweet and pure than Little Women.
I’m not sure what it was about this movie that made The Girl like it so much. It pains me to say this, but perhaps it was the dresses, which are hoop-ish and probably remind her of Sophia the First (shudder). Except, here are girls who clearly aren’t princesses, and that’s what I love about this movie. They struggle for money, and yet they do incredibly kind things like give away their Christmas breakfast to the poor German family that has even less than they do. They rely on the kindness of neighbors, they sell their hair so they don’t have to ask their mean aunt for money, and they work odd jobs to make ends meet. And they’re happy–not that they’re perfect and not that they don’t sometimes wish for more, but they know that they have each other, and that’s way more important than having a palace. It’s like the lesson Sophia pretends to be teaching (“remember how happy we were when we were broke, Mom? Let’s try to recreate our life of poverty, except in a palace!”).
I will also point out that this is a movie about sisters learning to be different instead of competing with each other. They all have different skills–Meg is a nurturer, Jo is a writer, Beth is a musician, and Amy can paint–and somehow, they all admire each other without being all that envious. I mean, they’re not saints and of course they have their moments, but everyone is proud of Jo’s book, and Amy’s painting, and they all celebrate when Beth gets that piano for Christmas. This is a life lesson we all want our kids to learn–find your passion and do it, without worrying about what your sibling is doing. It’s especially important in my family, where it have one child who has a disability and is going to face challenges in school, and one who appears not to.
Is this movie a bit overly sweet? Of course it is, but you know what? I am so sick of movies where people are fighting and shooting at each other, not to mention movies with exactly one female character in the whole film. Here is a movie about women and girls, and it’s charming, and my kids found it charming too. So, set aside your snarkiness for an afternoon and smile at people loving each other for a change. Think of it this way: how many movies are there where sisters, or other women, are mean and just shit on each other all the time? How about we counteract that with a little kindness?