You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men

A straightforward, not particularly engrossing story of camaraderie among boys, "Louisa May Alcott's Little Men" seems a calculated attempt to benefit from Gillian Armstrong's well-received "Little Women," released four years ago.

Nat Blake - Michael Caloz Jo Bhaer - Mariel Hemingway Dan - Ben Cook Tommy Bangs - Ricky Mabe Fritz Bhaer - Chris Sarandon Nan Harding - Gabrielle Boni Emil - Michael Yarmoush Demis Brooke - Tyler Hynes Jack Ford - B.J. McLellan Franz - Mathew Mackay Narrator - Kathleen Fee

A straightforward, not particularly engrossing story of camaraderie among boys, “Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men” seems a calculated attempt to benefit from Gillian Armstrong’s well-received “Little Women,” released four years ago. But whereas that film’s success was enhanced by a combination of strong casting and the novel’s long-standing reputation as a classic, new pic will have an uphill B.O. battle, in part because the book is not as well known as its predecessor. While the presence of Alcott’s name in the title of this wholesome but probably too sentimental pic may rally a few fans of the Armstrong film, it has neither the directorial nuances nor the acting strengths of the earlier production.

New tale follows the adventures of Nat (Michael Caloz) and Dan (Ben Cook), two street urchins with a penchant for trouble. About to be apprehended for petty theft, Nat becomes the recipient of a kindly benefactor’s goodwill and goes to live at Plumfield, the happy, peaceful school run by Jo (Mariel Hemingway) and Fritz Bhaer (Chris Sarandon). Meanwhile, surviving on his wits, Dan eludes the authorities.

At Plumfield, Nat reforms beautifully, learning the virtue of honesty, kindness and fair play. But when Dan turns up unexpectedly and the Bhaers agree to take him in, Plumfield’s tranquil life is disrupted violently. No sooner has Dan arrived than he’s encouraging the other boys to fist-fight, play poker and drink. Over Fritz’s objections, Jo insists they give Dan time to assimilate, but when his behavior proves too inflammatory, Dan is sent away. Remainder of pic deals with the boys’ attempt to cope with Dan’s departure and his eventual return, which provokes a lesson in valor and ethics.

Long on morality but weak on dramatic tension, pic is at its best when capturing the boys’ conflicting tendencies of toughness and naivete.

Thesping of young actors is above average all around, with Caloz and Cook in particular bringing conviction to their roles. They are a study in contrasts: Caloz has the innocence and physical frailty of a fawn, while Cook has the self-possession and cockiness of a pre-adolescent James Cagney.

Adult actors are fine in what are essentially secondary roles. As Jo, Hemingway has the requisite pluck and resourcefulness that Winona Ryder and Katharine Hepburn brought to the character in previous incarnations. However, Jo’s relentless positivism — so appropriate in the earlier film versions of “Little Women” — can seem unintentionally cloying in the company of so many little men.

Canadian helmer Rodney Gibbons’ direction is adequate if uninspired, as he fails to compensate for the script’s predictable patterns and occasionally stilted dialogue. Milan Kymicka’s score strikes the right balance of sentimentality and strength.

Louisa May Alcott's Little Men


Production: A Legacy release of a Brainstorm Media in association with Image Organization presentation of an Allegro Films production. Produced by Pierre David, Franco Battista. Executive producers, Meyer Shwarztein, Tom Berry. Co-executive producer, Josee Bernard. Associate producer, Elissa McBride. Directed by Rodney Gibbons. Screenplay, Mark Evan Schwartz, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott.

Crew: Camera (color), Georges Archambault; editor, Andre Corriveau; music, Milan Kymlicka; production designer, Donna Noonan; key set decorator, Mario Hervieux; set decorators, Michel Clement, Daine Gauthier, Frances Calder; costume designer, Janet Campbell; sound, Tim Archer; assistant director, Kimberly Berlin; casting coordinators, Lynda Purdy, Francois Garcia. Reviewed at Samuel Goldwyn Cinemas, L.A., May 2, 1998. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: Nat Blake - Michael Caloz Jo Bhaer - Mariel Hemingway Dan - Ben Cook Tommy Bangs - Ricky Mabe Fritz Bhaer - Chris Sarandon Nan Harding - Gabrielle Boni Emil - Michael Yarmoush Demis Brooke - Tyler Hynes Jack Ford - B.J. McLellan Franz - Mathew Mackay Narrator - Kathleen Fee

More Film

  • Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special

    Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special Mention Winner ‘Monster God’

    CANNES – An exploration of the ramifications of God, “Monster God,” from Argentina’s Agustina San Martín, took a Special Mention – an effective runner’s up prize – on Saturday night at this year’s Cannes Film Festival short film competition. It’s not difficult to see why, especially when jury president Claire Denis own films’ power resists [...]

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

  • Moby attends the LA premiere of

    Moby Apologizes to Natalie Portman Over Book Controversy

    Moby has issued an apology of sorts after writing in his recently published memoir “Then It Fell Apart” that he dated Natalie Portman when she was 20 — a claim the actress refuted. “As some time has passed I’ve realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho reacts after winning the

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes

    CANNES — The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival wrapped with jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu announcing the group’s unanimous decision to award the Palme d’Or to South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for his sly, politically charged “Parasite.” Following last year’s win for humanistic Japanese drama “Shoplifters,” the well-reviewed Asian thriller represents the yin [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to truly have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally acknowledged that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was a bit lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content