LITTLE WOMEN (1994)

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Elizabeth

I wish I knew how many times I’ve seen Little Women. I had seen it enough times to quote the movie by the time I finally got around to reading the novel in fourth grade. Between countless views and reading the novel, Little Women is a movie I could probably accurately re-write from memory.

At different points in my life I identified with each March sister, usually identifying with all of them at once. First there’s Beth, played here by Claire Danes. After I read the novel there was a week at school where I tried to change my name to Beth by only answering to Beth. Around day 3 I forgot to correct people when they called me Elizabeth, so it never really worked. But while I was still deep in my Little Women obsession, another little movie called Romeo + Juliet came out and became something I practically lived my life around. Claire Danes as Juliet only further fueled my love for Beth and solidified my belief that Beth was the most underrated character.

Then there’s obviously Jo, played by Winona Ryder.  While Beth and I basically shared a name, Jo and I seemed at times to share the same personality. Was Jo reacting just as I would react? Or have I seen Little Women so many times that Jo’s reactions have become my own? Who the hell knows, and who the hell really cares. The biggest flaw I found in Jo growing up was her refusal of Laurie (Christian Bale)’s marriage proposal. Were Jo and I not looking at the same person? Not hearing the same words? It seemed completely insane to me that she would not want to be with someone who seemed like her perfect match. I remember my mom trying to explain to me that Jo wasn’t in love with Laurie and wanted to see who else was out there, but Laurie being played by Christian Bale really made that hard to believe at the time. Jo ending up with Friedrich (Gabriel Byrne), whom I saw as just an old guy,  seemed like it was practically a plot hole. But I admit that watching Little Women as an adult makes the situation much clearer. Christian Bale is still there, but now he kind of looks like a little kid. Gabriel Byrne is still there, but now he looks sexy. It just kind of makes more sense.

The oldest March sister, Meg (Trini Alvarado) struggles with trying to be a good “lady” while simultaneously trying to figure out what that even means. I had some rich friends in elementary school who treated me the way the Moffats treated Meg – like they were doing me a favor by letting me into their world. And like Meg, I ate that shit up. But, luckily also like Meg, I found my rich friends’ lives to also be a little sad and cold. An Abercrombie & Fitch spending spree can’t match to being able to talk to your mom.

The youngest March sister, Amy (played first by Kirsten Dunst and then Samantha Mathis), was ironically the hardest for me to identify with despite being the closest to my age during the height of my obsession. I know in reality that this was clouded with jealousy – I mean, little Kirsten Dunst, who had ALREADY KISSED BRAD PITT, got KISSED (okay on the head) by CHRISTIAN BALE. That blew my mind. Something I felt really deeply about, though, was the scene where Amy burns Jo’s manuscript. Jo and Meg go to the theater with Laurie and John (later Meg’s husband); Amy perceives being left out as a complete slap in the face. I remember 100% agreeing with Amy at the time. They could’ve invited her, they just didn’t, just to be bitches. Amy is filled with a rage that seemed so understandable at the time that I don’t think it even registered as rage to me. Watching as an adult her request is completely absurd – a nagging child begging to go to the theater with adults. But then something switches. While they’re at the theater, Amy takes Jo long-worked-on manuscript and throws in the fire just in time for Jo to come home and watch it burn. That was when my writerly side trumped my child side. Be mad all you want, Amy, but don’t fucking touch Jo’s writing. That’s just crossing a line too bold to come back from. Of course, Jo eventually forgives her, but watching it as a kid I knew I would never be able to forgive someone for doing that to me. As an adult . . . I pretty much feel the same way.

Susan Sarandon as matriarch Marmee really stuck with me, too. First of all, Susan Sarandon looks so beautiful the entire movie despite being in a completely unsexy role. But mostly, it was the fact that she reminded me of my own mom and her reaction to Amy being hit by her teacher at school. While reading her letter to the teacher, Marmee says something along the lines of “if you hit and humiliate a child all you will teach that child is to hit and humiliate.” Hearing that as a child made total sense to me. In fact, after hearing that, I thought parenting was maybe not as difficult as it seemed, if you just understood a basic fact like that.

Of everything that happens, though, there is one moment in Little Women that I will always love and identify with the most. Growing up, I was known for my long hair. I grew it from about 1st-6th grade. Along the way I would get small haircuts, each one ending with me in tears and convinced feet of hair had been chopped off. In Little Women, rather than asking her awful great-aunt for money to help Marmee visit their wounded father in the hospital, Jo cuts her waist-length hair to her chin and sells her hair. That night, hearing Jo quietly sob in their bedroom, Beth wakes up and gently asks Jo, “Is it father?” Jo fingers the ends of her hair and pathetically whines, “My haaaaaaaaair.” Beth bursts into laughter, which must put the ridiculousness of the situation in a clear light for Jo to see, because Jo starts laughing, too. It’s a moment that’s genuinely funny and charming, but is also deadly realistic to a girl who’s had at least a couple of similarly dramatic haircuts.

You’ve seen Little Women, right? If you haven’t, don’t tell anyone and just watch it right now. You’ll feel better about everything.

Christopher

I always thought this movie was an epic. Something that would warrant two VHS’s. Though it’s not long it still packs a lot of story. I was hesitant about whether or not I would enjoy this film but in the end I found it super enjoyable. I felt like some stuff didn’t quite work. Such as Laurie and Amy getting together but I’m sure that makes more sense in the book.

I also enjoyed the huge cast. Ever since I saw The Usual Suspects I’ve really liked Gabriel Byrne and seeing a young Christian Bale is always great.

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BRING IT ON (2000)

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Christopher

I didn’t think I had seen this movie but at the very end, right before the credits, the cast dances to “Hey Mickey,” the Toni Basil song. It looked so familiar I must of watched it at some point in my childhood/growing up with a younger sister. Watching it now, it was pretty much what I expected.

It was wild when the film first starts because all the dialogue is just thrown at you. Every single line feels like a line in a movie. Or really, a stage play. It’s line, line, line, line, line. People are practically talking over each other. As the movie progressed it changed but the first twenty minutes feels like watching deleted scenes from Gilmore Girls. No real story but a ton of talking.

Once the story picked up it was pretty enjoyable. There were some good jokes and I definitely wanted Kristen Dunst to hook up with the love interest. What I never got over were the cheers. Were all those cheers made for the movie? The routine that they stole, hasn’t that been around forever? Or was it made just for this movie? Because those were totally cheers my younger sister did when she played softball.

I’m glad I watched this movie but I know I’ll totally forget about it not far from now. Also, I like seeing Eliza Dushku!

Elizabeth

Bring It On is kind of weird. I was 12 when it first came out, and I loved it but it also made me nervous. Life for the cheerleaders in Bring It On seems tough, but then realizing that you’re not even a teenager yet and that when you do become one, you will not be a blonde, clear-skinned twig, it seems a lot rougher. But luckily, Bring It On has enough goofiness to prove that it really doesn’t want you to take it that seriously.

Probably the best things about re-watching Bring It On were seeing Jesse Bradford and Ian Roberts. Now, I really don’t care about Jesse Bradford, but I thought his character was so CUTE and so FUNNY and just SO AWESOME when I first saw it. Watching it again, well of course he looks like a child, first of all. But second of all, when he has his meetcute with Kirsten Dunst, he’s wearing:

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Clearly, a Clash t-shirt. To me, this shirt is pretty obvious. Even if you don’t know The Clash, you should know that they existed, at least. But when Kirsten Dunst points it out, she says “Is that your band?” Now, would a guy wearing a Clash t-shirt look twice at a girl who didn’t even know The Clash existed, much less any other remote thing about them, even if said girl was Kirsten Dunst? I sort of think not . . . or at least it wouldn’t get off to this super cute start.

But yes, Ian Roberts was great. Before his character, a choreographer, shows up, I was trying to remember if anyone famous played him. Chris asked if it was Matt Walsh, and I knew it wasn’t . . . but then it was Ian Roberts! Ian Roberts looks so much like an average dude, it never occurred to me that a member of Upright Citizens Brigade was in Bring It On. It was more obvious though watching it this time because all of the energy and humor in any scene he’s in goes straight to him.

Bring It On isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s not trying to be. I was mostly relieved it wasn’t totally anti-female or something, which can happen pretty easily with hindsight and older movies.

ELIZABETHTOWN (2005)

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Elizabeth

Well, I guess the bottom line of Elizabethtown is that it doesn’t really make a ton of sense and the main characters are awful. Orlando Bloom plays Drew, a shoe designer who has somehow lost his company $972 billion. How did he do this? All we know is he designed a shoe that is somehow flawed. Why is one man, a designer, taking all the blame for that kind of loss? And why is the company even losing that much? Don’t waste your time wondering these things, because you’ll never find out. Because of this, Drew wants to kill himself, but before he can, his dad dies and he must travel to Elizabethtown, Kentucky to get the body. Drew is the only passenger on the flight, and so his flight attendant, Claire (Kirsten Dunst), decides to sit with Drew and talk to him the whole time. Because I’m sure that’s what all flight attendants really want to do.

So Drew is really narcissistic and Claire is really annoying and possibly psychotic. But what might be the worst element of Elizabethtown is how much meaning it tries to have but totally fails at having. Instead of flying back to wherever he came from, Claire convinces Drew to take a solo (with his dad’s ashes) road trip. She makes Drew a giant present filled with mix tapes and maps and all kinds of cutesy shit. The most absurd moment is when Drew visits the place of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, for a really long time I might add, and has like, a total moment. Or at least that’s how I imagine we’re supposed to think of the situation. Why do we need to see this? We don’t. Which is pretty much what you can say about the entire movie.

Christopher

I was really excited to watch this movie! It became something that I wanted to see for a while, when it was added to Netflix and the fact that Elizabeth is in the name. It ended up being exactly what I was hoping for, pure shit. I didn’t realize how artsy it tried to be. I think I was expecting something along the lines of The Wedding Planner but instead I got a Garden State knockoff, another unbearably awful movie!

There are too many scenes in this film that make you cringe and feel embarrassed for everyone involved. I honestly don’t remember a ton though cause the movie is over two hours long and it was kind of difficult to pay attention to.

I say check it out but don’t expect it to keep your interest throughout.