Though the calendar says that the holidays are now gone for another year, I couldn’t resist posting at least one more review of a new Christmas flick that aired on Lifetime. Flaws and all, this loosely inspired take on the classic Little Women manages to be cute in spite of everything that works against it.
Life in the March family is never dull. With exception to the mild-mannered but talented Beth (Melissa Farman), all of the girls are on their paths to success. Meg (Kaitlin Doubleday) is attending law school and is in, what she considers a socially successful relationship while her more artistic sister, Jo (Julie Marie Berman) is ignoring her real talent of writing and is instead ghost-tweeting for celebrities. Then there is the youngest, Amy (Molly Kunz) whose artistic inspirations tend towards theater work… and boys! When the beloved childhood home of the March family is in danger of being sold, the four girl’s begin to fight for something none of them want to let go off, all while trying to find their place in the world, and remembering what it’s like to be a close-knit family.
Anytime a screenplay “tampers” with a classic by moving it to the 21st century or giving it any sort of “modern” spin, there is bound to be outrage, and in the small circle I’m a part of, that was the consensus and reaction I came across. When I go into something of this sort, I make up my mind not to “pre-judge” it and accept that concessions will be made, and I also do not in any manner expect the story to follow the same patterns of its original format. That applies very well to this film. It’s a modern spin on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and though there is not the same charm as can be ascribed to the delightful 1994 adaptation, there is something to be admired about what scripter’s did with this fluffy piece of holiday cheer.
From my perspective – and admittedly it’s a very easy-to-please one at that, writers did a splendid job at writing this. It’s pleasing and irrespective of the few flaws it includes, there are a lot of happy moments and nods to the original material that cannot be ignored. To the credit of filmmakers, Alcott isn’t even recognized in the on-line credits though I don’t remember if she was on-screen – and in this case, that isn’t a slap in the face. Making Jo be a tweeter and writer of the celebrities wasn’t a bad modernized twist at all despite it being a major complaint – it seemed well written since it was a way for her to “hide” behind her talents although I realize this is depicted differently in prior films, except for the point that all she shared with the world were her frivolous writings and not the novel that she was actually capable of writing. Being a person who aspires to actually finish something beyond 1,000 words, I sympathized with Jo’s dilemmas and her protectiveness of what she had written. The person who I had the most “issue” with was Meg, who seemed the most out-of-character with her flitting from one relationship to another. The other girl’s, including Jo were plausible albeit… modern. And that is the main thrust of the film. It is a contemporary interpretation and as such, expecting it to paint the pretty picture that the 1800-era classic does is, I am sorry, unrealistic.
There are many modern ideals that may make the uninformed viewer’s eyes go wide in surprise but in reality, this adorable movie is no worse off than the modern adaptations of, say, The Count of Monte Cristo or the fairy-tale re-tellings we enjoy gushing over. Really the only scene that was tacky was a Halloween party the girl’s host – it wasn’t necessary to the story and was insulting to the integrity of the characters to experience them drinking themselves into a drunken state. Countering that were a few cute scenes of the girl’s in the attic, albeit usually not as a group and the key plot points were all met and given an updated spin. Though unfamiliar with their work, I was impressed with the lead actresses and also must credit the men, Mark Famiglietti, Justin Bruening and Charlie Hofheimer for their roles – in particular I liked the chemistry between Mark and Julie as well as the friendship she has with Teddy. It was clever how writer’s introduced the character of the “professor” and tying that relationship into the ending – it’s one that was awfully cute! Also well done with the promise of a blossoming relationship between Amy and her childhood crush – had it ended any other way, we’d have been offended at such a quick turnaround. If you go into this expecting the charm of days spent in front of a fireplace, hoop skirts and men who were truly gentleman, you’ll be disappointed. But for the perceptive viewer, ‘March Sisters’ is a sweet spin on a classic.
(Parental Concerns: Conversation reveals that Amy is a flirt – references are made to her being willing to make out with any man she finds attractive. At a party, before things can be carried further, she and her date are interrupted. Likewise, Meg is glimpsed on her boyfriend’s lap making out; later there is an implication she and another man are intimate behind closed doors. Playing a mean-spirited trick, Amy tweets nude photos of herself. Alcohol consumption is present in two prevalent scenes [once underage]. There may be a commonplace profanity or two.)