Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
Canadian director Rodney Gibbons helmed this adaptation of the 1871 Louisa May Alcott classic, previously filmed in 1935 and 1940. Alcott followed Little Women (1868) and Little Men with a third book in the series, Jo's Boys (1866). This 1998 family film was evidently prompted by Gillian Armstrong's successful 1994 Little Women adaptation with its potent cast (Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, Samantha Mathis, Christian Bale, Gabriel Byrne, Eric Stoltz, Mary Wickes, John Neville) and impressive production values. In Little Men, urban urchins Nat (Michael Caloz) and cocky Dan (Ben Cook) usually find trouble just around the corner. About to be nabbed for theft, Nat gets lucky after a kindhearted benefactor intervenes. While Dan continues to survive on the streets, Nat arrives at peaceful Plumfield -- the school managed by Jo (Mariel Hemingway) and Fritz Bhaer (Chris Sarandon) -- where he reforms and finds a new way of life. But then Dan arrives at Plumfield, the Bhaers take him in, and the tranquility is shattered. Dan has an immediate influence on life at the school after he introduces such activities as drinking, poker, and fights. Although Fritz objects, Jo decides to give Dan a chance. When problems persist, Dan is sent away -- and several ethical and moral lessons are underscored when Dan eventually rejoins the Plumfield camaraderie.
benefactor, orphan, reformatory, values