Have I mentioned that I am heterosexual today?
I kid, I kid. It was actually Luv’s decision to watch it and, as it wasn’t absolutely horrible, I figured I could give it a go as a review. Sure, it may be a bit different from what I usually cover, and it may be a bit… girly, and it may not have any opportunities for me to make fun of Catherine Zeta-Jones… but it was such a surprisingly good movie (not good on its own, mind you, but surprising in that it wasn’t absolutely awful) that I figured I could put my manly man movies into my European Shoulder Bag for a week and talk about it. Especially how, given the week long sulk I just came out of, it would probably be very unmanly for me to not get back on the horse and ride, Postman, ride. So, to sum up: I’m reviewing an unmanly movie in a manly way… or something.
Anyway, Little Women was a book I always knew existed but, outside of the Poe sisters in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I really knew nothing about Beth, Jo, Meg, and Amy. I guess I always figured it was the Civil War version of Beaches, or something, with girls being girly while the men were off doing manly things like having their limbs hacked off en masse. While it is a fairly… how shall I say this… benign sort of American period piece, it isn’t as dry as most of the stuff that comes on public TV around here at about 10PM. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s based in America, and especially in Massachusetts, who at the time had proudly worn “America’s Home of Reactionary Dickheads” label before Texas snatched it away somewhere around the Battle of the Alamo. Still, if you’re expecting this to turn out like Red Dawn or something, your manly faculties will be very disappointed to hear that there is not a single firearm discharged in the entire movie. Still, it would have been pretty boss to see the March girls go to war and, I don’t know, poison Jefferson Davis’ quiche or something. Guy probably ate quiche, you just know he did.
Anyway, I guess I enjoyed this movie because, as the proud owner of a Flippin’ Useless History Degree (hereafter referred to as my FUHD) seeing these kinds of period dress and sets and goings on in the average life get me all giddy. I’m serious. If I’m going to review Little Women, dammit, I’m going to be completely honest! The costumes are gorgeous, the sets (which look to be on location) are boffo, and the slice of early-Victorian life story is, well… I went to school for things like this. There’s nasty diseases, infant death, old timey cooking methods, horse and buggy, top hats, and giving Johnny Reb a good sousing. Things like actually make me squee (and Luv can tell you it’s true) when I see them used correctly and used to tell a, while familiar, still entertaining story. There’s really not a lot in this film that hasn’t been trod over in other period dramas, but you might be looking at the Ur Example of the American ad bellum novel… at least in the North. In fact, I think if you had the stomach for it (and you might need a FUHD to do so) it would be interesting to watch this film back to back with Gone With The Wind to really get a feel for the extremes brought on by the American Civil War… but I’m going to stop this paragraph before I wind up completely flagellating myself into a Historical stupor.
So the story, being written when it was, is a solid one, and it looks like a dream. But what of the cast? Well, for an all-purposes, Jack-Of-All-Trades nerd like myself, this movie is a damn goldmine. You see, we nerds (we true nerds, we band of brothers) have this amazing ability to turn almost any movie into an entirely new medium called The Riff. You can bet your socks that someone out there has wanted to Riff on Shindler’s List, but doing so would take enormous gumption and a lot of Qui-Gon Jinn jokes. Yes, we nerds can pretty much ruin any movie by using our massive nerd-brains to draw parallels and cast snark over the entire proceedings like Mordenkaiden’s Faithful something-or-other. Observe:
1994’s Little Women is a movie where (Dammit) Janet has four daughters: Mary-Jane Watson (who later grows up in Princess Daisy from the Mario Bros movie), Lydia Deetz, Juliet Capulet, and that lady who was in the Frighteners but I always confuse her for Andi McDowell. The movie is set during the Civil War, where (Dammit) Janet has to raise her kids to be competent, if a little rambunctious, women by the exacting standards of the time. Through various period appropriate adventures (including Amber Atkins almost drowning and Spock’s Mom getting her hair cut short), the little girls all grow into Little Women, and of course get paired off with some of the charming local fellows: Princess Daisy waltzes off with Batman, Not-Andi-McDowell marries Rocky Dennis from Mask, and Winona decides to leave that bloke with scissors on his hands to marry SATAN.
He had a German accent in Little Women. COINCIDENCE?!
Oh, and Clare Danes doesn’t get to marry anyone, because she gives up on her So-Called Life and kicks the bucket, but not before Baron Munchausen can give her a piano for Christmas.
Movies like Little Women are a geek’s dream come true, because the cast is fully of really talented actors who, while they give a good performances, have also been in other movies that make hilarious corollaries to a period drama. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to see Batman fight Satan for the right to marry the chick from Beetlejuice? And I think someone is not writing a fan-fiction on that very subject now. Also, if you want extra nerd points, you can try to figure out if Christian Bale’s character in this movie would have been the right age to father Christian Bale’s character in Newsies, but… that would mean you would have had to have seen Newsies… and I haven’t… ever… no, really… no, sirree, haven’t seen it… certainly not humming the opening bars to “Sieze the Day” right now, not at all… although I usually like to try singing “Santa Fe” or “King of New York” in Bale’s Batman voice for extra lulz.
Anyway, in closing, Little Women is a good movie, and surprisingly so. I was told by Luv that they cut a lot out of the book to streamline the film, but I really couldn’t tell, and believe me, with some movies you can tell. This leads me either to believe that the movie is incredibly well adapted or edited, or that the book might be a crushing bore if I tried to read it. But what do I know? I’m not a twelve year old girl.
I can’t be any worse than Twilight, anyway.
Until we meet again, I tenderly remain,