CREDIT: Eli Joshua Adé/Universal Pictures

Starring: Marsai Martin, Regina Hall, Issa Rae, Justin Hartley, Tone Bell, Mikey Day, Luke James, Rachel Dratch

Director: Tina Gordon

Running Time: 109 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for An Adult Woman Trapped in a Child’s Body Trying to Drink and Flirt Like an Adult Woman

Release Date: April 12, 2019

There is a creepy subtext to high-concept comedies about kids fantastically becoming the adult version of themselves. But the likes of Big and 13 Going on 30 avoid being actually creepy films by choosing to sidestep those implications. However, the fact remains that their main characters are children in adult bodies who find themselves in situations that could very well turn sexual. Physically, they may have magically become mature, but emotionally they remain the same, so ethically it’s all sorts of confusing. Little reverses the premise, turning the adult into her middle school self, and it also embraces the creepiness, which is confusing in an inside-out sort of way. Is a 13-year-old girl hitting on her teacher morally acceptable when she’s actually a grown woman under a magic spell? Little convinces me that it is, bizarrely enough. The rest of the movie, alas, raises all sort of unanswered conundrums.

Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall) has become the successful head of a tech company by adopting an I’ll-take-whatever-I-want attitude in response to the bullying she endured for being a nerdy science kid. She may have plenty of cash and a decent amount of respect in an often sexist and racist industry, but all of her employees are deathly terrified of her and she doesn’t have any close friends or family. So for a few days she turns into her younger self (in the form of black-ish‘s Marsai Martin, who came up with the idea and at 14 is the youngest person ever to receive an executive producer credit on a Hollywood production) to get back in touch with what originally fueled her passion in the first place. That’s all well and good, but the shenanigans that happen to get her to that realization are a little more suspect.

A movie like this is obviously not aiming for verisimilitude, but how the characters grapple with the break from typical reality shows how much thought and care did, or did not, go into the story. On that matter, Jordan’s sudden absence from work is too easily brushed off as illness, while the sudden appearance of a little girl is too often not explained at all. (Occasionally, the explanation is that Jordan has a daughter, but that’s only employed when the scene requires it.) Also, the whole school subplot is catalyzed by a wacky misunderstanding involving Child Protective Services and concluded in just as weightless a fashion. What will CPS do when they realize that Jordan has disappeared from school after attending it for only a couple of days and then they discover that the child version of her no longer exists? Little provides no answer, but I wish it would have, because it could have resulted in plenty of hilarity. Depending on your sense of humor, there may very well be plenty of opportunities for you to heartily guffaw during this movie, but instead of mostly being a natural outgrowth of the premise, they mostly feel like a random series of hijinks.

Little is Recommended If You Like: 13 Going on 30, Insecure, Thirsty Women Admiring Shirtless Men

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Donut Trucks

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