REVIEW: A ‘Little’ too unoriginal

I have to admit, I’m getting somewhat exhausted by all of these movies where something mystical happens to a woman we’ve had recently. Seriously, in the last 12 months we’ve had “I Feel Pretty,” “Isn’t it Romantic,” “What Men Want” and now this picture “Little.”

The movie introduces audiences to the character April (Issa Rae) who works as the main assistant for an app development company run by Jordan (Regina Hall). Jordan is one of the toughest bosses that anyone could have, always demanding the best from her employees with basically a zero tolerance policy for any sort of fun or enjoyment to be had in the workplace.

In the first act, the audience learns that Jordan’s company is potentially going to lose one of its top clients. With stress building, Jordan begins to snap at people, including a little girl who gets upset and wishes that she’d be younger so she couldn’t push people around. The wish comes true and Jordan wakes up the next day back as a middle school student (Marsai Martin). So, now her and April need to team up to navigate life for the next few days as they figure out how to switch things back.

The concept of “Little” of course isn’t all that fresh. A similar premise was portrayed in the 2009 movie “17 Again” and as mentioned in the lede, there’s been quite a few pictures as of late where a female character gets another view on life because of some unexplained magic.

Unfortunately, the lack of freshness in the premise transcends on the overall product, too. Much of the comedy here is either low hanging fruit or attempts at humor that’s been done before. An example is Jordan wanting to have a drink and not being able to because of her predicament. It’s played out too much and isn’t very clever.

Nothing is portrayed in this film with any sort of nuance or subtlety, either. Everything is so damn black or white, Jordan is over-the-top in how mean she is and April is excessively shown to how she doesn’t have much of a backbone.

Regarding the latter, there’s a moment where she has to fill in for Jordan at one point during a meeting and basically all of the employees just walk out on her for no reason. It’s played for laughs but it’s so nonsensical that it falls flat.

This leads into another problem with the movie, too. The main story is of course about Jordan. However, the makers of this film couldn’t seem to make up their mind on whether April’s story was another A plot with Jordan’s, or just a B plot along side. It’s as if the makers of this picture wanted April to be a main character, but didn’t fully commit.

It didn’t help that Jordan’s story was hit or miss. Watching her befriend some of the kids at school and learn to be a little nicer was all well and good, but overall, her character didn’t really grow or have a noticeable arc.

There were also some rather odd creative decisions, too. For example, there’s a moment when both April and Jordan as her younger self break out into a song and dance routine at a fancy restaurant for seemingly no reason. Was it supposed to be charming? A bonding moment between the characters? Just a bit of absurdist comedy? It’s never really portrayed in a way to where an audience knows.

It should also be noted that “Little” has one too many loose ends at the conclusion that aren’t really cleared up.

In all fairness, the cast does their best with the material given. Rae is solid as April and Marsai Martin knocks it out of the park portraying the younger version of Jordan. She does really strong work here portraying the CEO in a middle school student’s body and she makes the most of her time on screen.

Overall, “Little” is a fairly forgettable comedy that doesn’t do anything groundbreaking with the premise. It benefits from a good cast, a great performance from Martin and a few laughs here and there. For the most part, though, it can be skipped. 2.0 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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