12th Apr2019

‘Little’ Review

by Xenia Grounds

Stars: Issa Rae, Marsai Martin, Regina Hall, Tone Bell, Luke James, Mikey Day, JD McCrary, Tucker Meek, Thalia Tran, Justin Hartley, Rachel Dratch | Written by Tina Gordon, Tracy Oliver | Directed by Tina Gordon

little-poster

My initial thoughts on Little, after watching the trailer, were optimistic. The trailer was funny and I was hoping that it wouldn’t be another case of the funniest parts being in the trailer. Thankfully, that concern in the back of my head was squashed within the first two minutes of this movie.

The plot of Little is straight-forward. After being bullied as a teen, Jordan Sanders decides to bully people before they get a chance to bully her. It’s an attitude that has gotten her far in her career but not in her personal life. At work, she makes her employee’s lives incredibly difficult and she is that boss you either dread having or hate working for. However, after getting on the wrong side of a young female magician, Jordan wakes up back in her teenage body. She has to deal with going back to the school where her bullying took place and having people treat her in the manner she treated others. It’s up to her and her assistant April to find a way to change Jordan back to her adult self. This is basically Tom Hanks’s Big in reverse.

First is the most important thing: the comedy. The humour may not be to everyone’s taste but personally, I did laugh during many scenes. I found the instances where Jordan was being an unreasonable boss and the responses from her employees relatable. An example of this is when Jordan calls April complaining about how April doesn’t answer her calls because April has to sleep. Jordan than rhetorically asks ‘Am I being unreasonable?’ and April largely mouths ‘Yes!’ among other explicatives before saying on the phone that Jordan isn’t. It’s over the top but it works in showing how out of touch Jordan is with people. Not every joke hits the mark, and some are distasteful. There’s one where grown-up Jordan says to a child that they look like they’re transitioning. It feels like an unnecessary low to sink to.

Another selling point is the diversity. This movie is led by black women and you can see how it influences everywhere like Jordan’s ‘Homegirl’ OS prototype which is basically Alexa with attitude. There are lines like April’s: “You went to bed grown, and you woke up little? That’s for white people, ‘cause black people don’t have the time.” It’s what makes this very familiar story refreshing because we’re seeing it told in a way that’s different from what we’re used to.

While the humour and representation are things to enjoy, the story is still very conventional and predictable. You’ll know how everything will play out as soon as you meet each character. There’s nothing wrong with clichés if the movie uses them correctly and Little plays it safe with its story-telling but the performances more than make up for its predictability. This is a story that was legitimately pitched by a ten year old so it makes sense that it’s derivative. That said, its message isn’t about recapturing the innocence of youth like stories like this go for. Jordan makes it clear she has no desire to stay as a child even after her character growth. It’s about not beating the bully by becoming them which is a message that is less cliché.

The three actresses are great in their roles. Regina Hall doesn’t get too much screen time given the circumstances of the plot but she does a great job when you get the chance to see her. It’s really Issa Rae as April and Marsai Martin as the thirteen year old Jordan that steal the show. Their chemistry make overlooking the weaker parts of the script easier as they play off each other amazingly. Fourteen year old Martin manages to come across like an adult in a teen’s body naturally and it’s easy to believe it’s the same character in a different body. Martin is the one who pitched and helped produce Little. This may not the strongest debut from a child star we’ve seen but if she can generate movies like Little then she may come up with better ideas as she gets older.

Overall, Little is a flawed movie and milage will vary on whether you’ll enjoy it or not but if you’re looking for a light-hearted comedy then this one will do the job just fine.

Little is in UK cinemas from today, Friday April 12th.

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