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Little – Movie Review

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Little – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

The body and age swapping comedy is a tried and true genre in Hollywood, one that became especially popular in the late ‘80s for whatever reason. The appeal is understandable as it allows actors to stretch their wings and play a different type of role with comedic possibilities. Little hardly changes the script on this oft-repeated concept and nobody will confuse this for a groundbreaking comedy. However, the lead actors are able to derive enough laughs out of the premise to make for a satisfying viewing. One wishes the movie had taken a bit more advantage of certain scenarios, but Little otherwise makes for a humourous romp.

The first twenty minutes are a little slow as we are introduced to Regina Hall’s temperamental boss at a technology company. These are necessary, though, to establish the lead protagonist Jordan Sanders and her assistant April’s annoyance with her. Once Marsai Martin appears and starts acting high and mighty, that’s when the laughs really begin. Martin captures Hall’s mannerisms to an impressive degree and that fuels many of the jokes. There is some humorous interplay between Issa Rae and Martin, especially as they try to figure out what is going on. Putting Jordan into a middle school environment also leads to some decent comedy bits, especially when she becomes attracted to a teacher.

The screenplay, credited to Tracy Oliver and director Tina Gordon Chism, gives Martin some fittingly barbed lines to say and quite a few funny set-pieces coming from her and Rae trying to navigate this unusual situation. The movie even manages to make an out-of-nowhere song and dance number in a restaurant into an amusing bit. Eventually, the expected messages and character changes occur and the film does slow down during those portions. The attempts at sentiment don’t quite land and the main theme is forced onto the audience and it’s just a patient wait for the funny parts to start up again.

One also gets the feeling entire scenes have been cut out. Jordan surprisingly doesn’t spend as much screen time in the school, despite the comedic potential. The aforementioned teacher disappears not long after he’s introduced, even though the movie seems to be setting up a running joke. Oddly enough, he appears to be the only teacher present, even in assembly scenes with large groups of extras. Little also casts the same actress to play a mean girl in both the present day and the opening flashback scene, but nothing ever comes out of this. The movie jumps back and forth between scenes at the office, Jordan at the school or at her apartment, sometimes rather abruptly. At about an hour and fifty minutes, Little is already rather lengthy for a comedy, but there’s definitely a longer director’s cut sitting somewhere with even funnier scenes to be exploited.

Little passes just the bare minimum of being a successful comedy. There are enough funny moments and the three main actresses are given a decent amount of material to work with. Marsai Martin, who also served as one of the film’s executive producers, especially proves to be a potential comedic talent on the rise and more than digs into the role and she is able to share the spotlight with her co-star. The more serious scenes could have been better written and the direction never rises above competent, but Little delivers where it matters the most.

Stefan Ellison

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