‘Little Women’ Film Review: Contemporary Take on Literary Classic Feels More Old-Fashioned Than the Original

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Clare Niederpruem’s adaptation of “Little Women” is billed as “the first-ever modern cinematic retelling of the classic story.” (Apparently they’re not counting the 2012 TV movie “The March Sisters at Christmas.”) This sounds like a promising approach; Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel was published 150 years ago, yet it remains as relevant as ever.

Alcott’s books grappled with the place of girls and women (and also boys and men) in the world, so there will always be room for thoughtful adaptations of her work. Indeed, this year brought a well-received miniseries to PBS, and Greta Gerwig is currently working on an interpretation starring Saoirse Ronan and Meryl Streep. Plus, of course, parents still show kids their own favorite versions, from 1933, 1949 and 1994.

But these efforts reflected a crucial understanding missing from Niederpruem’s feature debut: that we are all Jo (or Meg, or Beth, or Amy, or Laurie). The girls in this contemporary retelling — which was produced by the faith-based company Pinnacle Peak — are not messy and complex human beings but Hallmark Channel characters, two-dimensional symbols of virtuous nostalgia.

Also Read: Emma Watson Squeezes Into Cast of Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ Adaptation

The film jumps back and forth in time in confusing fashion, with the characters primarily embodied at different ages by the same actors. Sarah Davenport (“Stitchers”) is thus required to portray both teenage Jo and adult Jo. Unfortunately, both are played in the same wide-eyed manner, which renders her too visibly mature as a young teen and too emotionally naive as a grownup.

Davenport has also been directed to deliver every line of dialogue as a declaration of intent. This would be distracting under any circumstances, but it’s certainly not helped by the lines themselves: “I, Jo March,” she grandly decrees, “will be a very successful writer, and will do all the things.” One of these things, as it turns out, is to help poor Beth (Allie Jennings) when she gets sick. “Web MD scared the crap out of me,” Jo announces to their mother, Marmee (Lea Thompson), when she arrives at the hospital.

Also Read: Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson Reunite in ‘Back to the Future’ Cast Photo

Moreover, Jo’s subversive rebellion — and all the girls’ moral struggles — are sanded down to anodyne blandness. When maternal Meg (Melanie Stone) breaks out of her homeschooled shell for a drunken prom party, she learns her lesson immediately, the camera mercilessly glaring at her cartoonishly vulgar makeup. There are no lessons learned from conflicting with Aunt March (Barta Heiner), because she’s become a smiley eccentric spending her retirement on cruise ships. Laurie (Lucas Grabeel, “High School Musical”) is as unthreatening a childhood crush as one could ask for. Beth, with her puppy-dog expressions and passive personality, is on a path to martyrdom from the start.

Alcott addressed issues of poverty in a way that remains utterly essential today but is similarly scrubbed from this enviably set-designed March home. The repetitious Christmas scenes in the cozy living room are shot with particular care and serve as the movie’s centerpieces. But in their enviable, Pinterest-worthy décor, they’re hardly reflective of the austere and ennobling spiritual experience readers may remember.

Watch Video: Lea Thompson on Hollywood Sexual Harassment: ‘It Was Like Kryptonite’

However, as Marmee might note, we can always find a silver lining. Stone and Grabeel are standouts, their low-key presence serving as necessary correctives to the unceasing energy of a frenetic Jo. Thompson also brings some welcome warmth to the household, calmly centering so much unfocused activity. And co-writers Niederpruem and Kristi Shimek take a noticeably careful approach to the issue of the suitors, an aspect of the book that has always been a sore spot for many.

The staid and disappointing Professor Bhaer has been aged down into a handsome teacher called Freddy (Ian Bohen, “Yellowstone”), who works with Jo when she’s in her late twenties. And though young Amy (Elise Jones) always has a crush on Laurie, nothing comes of it until she’s played by the adult Taylor Murphy. There’s also some poignancy to seeing Papa (Bart Johnson, another “High School Musical” alum) Skyping in his fatigues, war being yet another timeless theme of Alcott’s.

Most of those themes, though, go unaddressed. It’s no crime to update classics, as fans of “Clueless” (or Jane Austen) and “10 Things I Hate About You” (or Shakespeare) can attest. But without a genuine respect for the author’s intent, the era is irrelevant. This version seems to have been made not to honor Alcott’s little women but instead to please the parents who want blandly wholesome family entertainment for their own. One can only imagine what Jo herself would have to say on the subject.



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Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson Reunite in ‘Back to the Future’ Cast Photo

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson, Christopher Lloyd and Thomas F. Wilson reunited for an epic “Back to the Future” cast photo at a convention on Friday, giving fans major nostalgic feels.

The stars of the 1985 classic took a picture together in Boston, the first time the cast has been together since a 30th anniversary celebration in 2015.

“Four old friends get back from the future,” Thompson wrote, while Fox captioned his photo with, “Back in 2018, even Biff made it.”

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According to Huffington Post, the cast took photographs and signed autographs for fans and took part in a panel discussion.

“Back to the Future” was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who also wrote the screenplay for the film with Bob Gale. It has become a cult classic film after grossing $381 million worldwide and is the highest-grossing film of 1985. The movie also had two sequels, which were released in 1989 and 1990.

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See the photos below.

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‘Back To The Future’ Stars Reunite To Celebrate Sci-Fi Classic

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Great Scott! Back to the Future stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Thomas Wilson reunited in 2018 to give a boost of nostalgia for fans at the Fan Expo in Boston this weekend.
It’s been 33 years since the Robert Zemeckis-d…

Female Digital Entrepreneurs on Creating Inclusive Tech Industry: ‘We Have the Power’ (Video)

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Digital entrepreneur Kathryn Finney says she founded Digital Undivided, an incubator for women in tech and startups, so women can help other women and create a more inclusive tech industry.

“I started a fashion blog called Budget Fashionista, and during that time period I noticed that there were virtually no women of color in the startup space, particular in the media side of it,” Finney said Thursday at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in San Francisco. “And when I sold [Budget Fashionista] and started BlogHer, I realized there were none of us at conferences, so I went to the founders of BlogHer and said, ‘I want to start something for black women and latina founders.’ I think that’s an important story about how women help other women.” 

Moderator Cathryn Posey then introduced three women guided through Digital Undivided, asking them to weigh in on why they founded their own companies in the tech space. 

Bryanda Law, CEO and founder of Quirktastic, Farah Allen, CEO and founder of The Labz and Valeska Toro, founder of Sola Travelers, all said that they noticed a lack of female diverse representation in their respective fields, and started their companies to fill that void.

See Video: Lea Thompson on Hollywood Sexual Harassment: ‘It Was Like Kryptonite’

“I love to travel and in 2017, I went on a solo trip and while I was out there, I was sexually harassed,” Toro said of the impetus for her Sola Travelers project. “The next day, I met a woman who completely changed the way I looked at the world. She was able to tell me things that I wasn’t able to find anywhere else. She was a woman living in that area, so she was able to tell me where to go, what not to do, and give me all this information that is not available to us.

“Where are women finding this information, especially when you are traveling alone as a woman?” Toro asked. “So I created this community of women who help each other travel, write reviews and recommendations and how to stay safe.”

She said that when she first thought of the name for her company, people told her “sola,” translating to “woman alone,” had a negative connotation. Her response to that is simple: “Just because you are a woman alone doesn’t mean its sad — it’s powerful.”

Law created Quirktastic, a platform that creates media and tech products for “geeks, nerds, alternatives, free spirits, and intellectuals of color,” because she said she could not find a place for “quirky” people like her to express themselves.

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“I created this community of people who felt they were misfits and that their voices weren’t heard,” Law said.

For Allen, The Labz offered a way for creative types to explore their passions while remaining mindful of the nitty-gritty of company-building. “Creatives would never be excited about business processes and my job was to fix that,” she said. “While you’re working, we’re collecting all data for your business processes.”

All three entrepreneurs asked for the support of the audience attending the breakfast. “Right now, there’s a woman obsessed with a town and dreams of going there, but doesn’t know how to start,” said Toro. “We have the power to change that — she doesn’t have to sit there alone.”

Also Read: The Scene With Lea Thompson, Madelyn Deutch at the Power Women Breakfast San Francisco (Exclusive Photos)

The July 12 breakfast was hosted by TheWrap CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Sharon Waxman, at Dolby Laboratories in San Francisco. Actress Lea Thompson and daughter Madelyn Deutch were the keynote speakers, while Compton Mayor Aja Brown and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also discussed their experiences as female leaders.

TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast series is connecting and inspiring the leading influential women of entertainment, media, technology and brands in the key cities where those women work, create, gather, network and connect. All ticket proceeds go directly to benefit women’s leadership programs and gender equity initiatives via WrapWomen Foundation.

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The Scene With Lea Thompson, Madelyn Deutch at the Power Women Breakfast San Francisco (Exclusive Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Actress and director Lea Thompson spoke at Dolby Laboratories headquarters in San Francisco with her daughter Madelyn Deutch, who she directed in “The Year of Spectacular Men,” which Deutch wrote and in which she starred. They were the keyn…

Lea Thompson on Hollywood Sexual Harassment: ‘It Was Like Kryptonite’ (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Lea Thompson, the veteran actress who has directed her own daughter in her first feature, said on Thursday that getting sexually harassed during auditions “was like Kryptonite” – killing her ability to win roles in her younger years.

“I didn’t realize these things were unacceptable and how they kept me down all these years,” she said, speaking at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in San Francisco. “I was in really bad auditions and people would start on me and it would take all my power away to the point where I didn’t get the job. It was like Kryptonite… It was obvious when a director was shopping for a girlfriend.”

See Video: Watch Lea Thompson, Madelyn Deutch at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast SF on Twitter Live

Thompson spoke at Dolby Laboratories headquarters in San Francisco with her daughter Madelyn Deutch, who she directed in “The Year of Spectacular Men,” which Deutch also wrote and scored. They were the keynote at the breakfast which also included Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Compton Mayor Aja Brown, along with a panel of entrepreneurial women of color. The series recognizes influential women of entertainment, media, technology and brands, and is also held in cities like Washington D.C. and New York.

Referring to the #MeToo phenomenon, Deutch, 27,  said, “This movement has made me check myself in how I look at women in positions of power,” adding that she is at times unfair in her criticism of other women. “We are trained in scarcity versus abundance. There’s always been less opportunities so it’s always been, ‘Be the best at your job.’”

Thompson said that the movement has made her see progress in diverse representation and storytelling.

“I had an agent tell me there were three roles I could play:  virgins, whores and mothers,” Thompson said, who may be best known for playing Michael J. Fox’s mother in “Back to the Future.” She added: “That’s maybe why people like ‘Back to the Future’ so much, because I played all three. That’s what’s so great about diversity in storytelling and business — It’s gotten boring doing the same business model and telling the same stories… When you do diversity, you get new business, new stories, new inspiration and you appeal to the new America.”

She added, “I like that now you aren’t considered crazy if you say [on set] ‘Hey, I feel uncomfortable. Maybe we shouldn’t do that.’ I’m glad the conversation has been started.”

Deutch added that she learned a lot from casting her own movie, specifically about the lack of diversity in lead roles. She explained that she had five love interests in the movie, one of which was played by Brandon T. Jackson. When she asked him why he wanted to be a part of this movie, Jackson had a heartbreaking explanation.

“He said, ‘as a person of color, I’ve never been offered a romantic lead. I’ll go and audition for them but I’ve always been offered rapper, drug dealer, or pimp as a person of color.’ Thats what you find when you cut your path — you make discoveries that are inclusive.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called out Donald Trump’s border policy, saying that her city puts children in college, not cages, referencing immigrant children still in detention. “This [is a] crazy national moment we find ourselves in where my government is putting children in cages,” said Schaaf. “In Oakland, we put children in college, that’s what we’re about.”

Compton Mayor Aja Brown and Schaaf also spoke about the challenges they have faced in their positions because of their gender. Before she went into politics, Brown said she thought she would have to be older to pursue her dream.

See Video: Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf Calls Out Trump on Border Policy: ‘In Oakland, We Put Children in College’

“I assumed I had to be 40,” said the 36-year-old mayor, who was only 31 when she was first elected. “I was always asked, ‘Are you old enough?’ and I would say, ‘I think I am! There’s no age restriction!’ There are just barriers we have to do break through mentally.”

During TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast, three female digital entrepreneurs discussed their reasons for starting their own companies. Bryanda Law, CEO and founder of Quirktastic, Farah Allen, CEO and founder of The Labz and Valeska Toro, founder of Sola Travelers, all said that they started their companies to fill a void of diverse female representation in their respective fields.

“I created this community of people who felt they were misfits and that their voices weren’t heard,” Law said about Quirktastic, a platform that creates media and tech products for “geeks, nerds, alternatives, free spirits, and intellectuals of color.” Toro founded her company, a platform for women to write reviews while traveling, so women could help other women find safe places to travel to and empower each other, conveying the idea that traveling alone doesn’t have to have a negative connotation. 

Allen, a technologist, founded The Labz, so musicians would have an easy way to protect their copyright. “Creatives would never be excited about business processes and my job was to fix that. While you’re working, we’re collecting all data for your business processes.”

“I’ve heard two things today,” Deutch said after listening to the other panels at the breakfast. “I keep hearing that we can’t do it alone and [we need] money. Those are the things I hear on a loop — you need support, scaffolding as you build the building, and you need investors.”

“To be inspired by all of you is wonderful,” Thompson said, addressing the audience. “As Michelle Obama once said, we hold each other to impossible standards and that’s what stops us from helping each other.”

Watch the video above.

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TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in San Francisco kicked off on Thursday with opening remarks by Jennifer Bowcock, VP of Global Communications and co-leader of WE, Women’s Empowerment Group at Dolby Laboratories.
The event features a spotlig…

Lea Thompson, Madelyn Deutch Join Power Women Breakfast San Francisco

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Lea Thompson and Madelyn Deutch, the mother-daughter filmmaking team behind the new release “The Year of Spectacular Men,” join Power Women Breakfast San Francisco on July 12, the fourth in TheWrap’s 2018 event series featuring inspiring women of achievement.

They join Compton Mayor Aja Brown and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf as keynote speakers at what promises to be an impactful morning at the Dolby Laboratories Headquarters in San Francisco.

Wrap Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman will interview Thompson and Deutch about collaborating on their film, “The Year of Spectacular Men,” and the joys and pitfalls of mothers and daughters working together in Hollywood. Written by Madelyn Deutch, the film – released June 15 – is a personal look at the life, language and loves of millennial women. It was directed and produced by Thompson who co-stars along with Madelyn and her sister, Zoey Deutch, who also serves as producer.

Also Read: The Scene at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast Washington DC (Photos)

They join a stellar lineup of female influencers including Aja Brown and Libby Schaaf, the mayors of the California cities of Compton and Oakland, who will share the stage for a conversation about their progressive visions for elevating and improving the lives of their constituents. Kathryn Finney, founder of digitalundivided, will share data from the group’s most recent Project Diane report on the state of Black and Latinx women in the entrepreneurship and innovation economies.

Also Read: The Scene at the Power Women Breakfast NYC (Exclusive Photos)

The breakfast in San Francisco follows on the heels of two recent Power Women events in Washington DC and New York City, which welcomed Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Iranian activist Masih Alinejad and Emmy-winning actress Judith Light.

To find out more about Power Women Breakfast and to get your ticket to Power Women Breakfast San Francisco,

ABOUT POWER WOMEN BREAKFAST
TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast series is connecting and inspiring the leading influential women of entertainment, media, technology and brands in the key cities where those women work, create, gather, network and connect.

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Lea Thompson To Co-Star In Fox Comedy Pilot ‘Our People’ From Lee Daniels

Read on: Deadline.

In her return to comedy series two decades after her starring turn on NBC’s Caroline In the City, Lea Thompson has been tapped for a meaty series regular role in Our People, Fox’s culture clash single-camera comedy pilot from Lee Daniels and Modern Family executive producer Vali Chandrasekaran.
The projectfrom Lee Daniels Entertainment, Endemol Shine and 20th Century Fox TV, is based on the Israeli format Nevsu: A Young Multicultural Couple.
Written by Chandrasekaran…

Netflix Buys Chrissy Metz, Shannon Purser Comedy ‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Two stars from some of the biggest shows on TV — Chrissy Metz of “This Is Us” and Shannon Purser of “Stranger Things” — are headed to Netflix with a feature film.

The streaming giant has acquired “Sierra Burgess Is A Loser,” a modern-day telling of Cyrano de Bergerac set in high school.

Ian Samuels directs from Lindsay Beer’s script. RJ Cyler (“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”), Kristine Froseth (“Let The Right One In”), Noah Centineo (“The Fosters”) and Lea Thompson costar.

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The rom-com centers on Sierra (played by Purser), an intelligent teen who must team up with the popular girl to win over her crush.

Black Label Media produced the early acquisition, which came down Thursday as Hollywood descended on Park City, Utah. Molly Smith, Rachel Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill produced for Black Label.

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WME handled the sale. Director Samuels is repped by CAA.

Best known for her role as Barb on season 1 of “Stranger Things,” Purser will next appear on NBC’s drama “Rise.” Froseth was last seen in “Rebel in the Rye,” while Cyler most recently starred in Showtime’s “I’m Dying Up Here.” Metz stars on “This Is Us” and Centineo has a role on Freeform’s “The Fosters.”

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MarVista Entertainment Buys Lea Thompson’s Helming Debut; CFI Releasing Acquires ‘Life And Nothing More’

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MarVista Entertainment has acquired The Year of Spectacular Men, Lea Thompson’s theatrical helming debut, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. Written by and starring Thompson’s daughter Madelyn Deutch, the film follows Izzy, who is comically unsuccessful in love during the course her first year out of college, including five half-hearted relationships with astoundingly self-centered men. Izzy resigns herself to the support of her mother and sister…

Health Care Policies Take Spotlight at Race to Erase MS Gala Honoring Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Read on: Variety.

Hope and community were strong among the celebrity guests who helped honor Jamie-Lynn Sigler on Friday at the 24th Race to Erase MS Gala at The Beverly Hilton. Chicago headlined the benefit. Guests included music director David Foster, Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, Quincy Jones, Randy Jackson, and Lea Thompson — a longtime supporter of the annual multiple sclerosis benefit who said… Read more »

Lea Thompson To Star In New Feature Adaptation Of ‘Little Women’

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Lea Thompson, who just came off a successful run on ABC’s Freeform series Switched at Birth, has signed on to a modern adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott novel Little Women to play the lead role of family matriarch Marmee. Joining Thompson will be her Switched at Birth colleague and High School Musical alum Lucas Grabeel who will play Laurie.
The independent feature, which marks the directorial debut for Clare Niederpruem, is a co-production and will be…

Lea Thompson, Alan Ruck Join Black Label’s ‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Lea Thompson and Alan Ruck have been cast as the parents of the Shannon Purser’s title character in the Ian Samuels-directed comedy Sierra Burgess Is A Loser. Described as a contemporary retelling of the Cyrano de Bergerac tale, the film is produced by Black Label Media’s Molly Smith, Rachel Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill.
Lindsey Beer wrote the screenplay for the movie, which centers on Sierra, an intelligent teen who does not fall into the…