EXPECTATIONS: A charming crowdpleaser along the lines of 17 Again and Suddenly 30.
REVIEW: “From the producer of Girls Trip and Night School“. This statement up on the poster sends me in a sour state of trepidation. While Girls Trip is an immensely enjoyable raunchy comedy that deserves all its kudos and financial success, Night School was just excrementally [sic] horrible piece of work that wastes all of its comedic talents with a such an unfunny script and terrible comedy instincts and filmmaking.
Now we have Tina Gordon Chism‘s Little, a comedy that is a throwback to the body-switching cinematic stories like Penny Marshall‘s Big, Gary Nelson‘s Freaky Friday, Burr Steers‘ 17 Again, Gary Winick‘s Suddenly 30 and others. While it may not be the most original idea, the talent involved certainly raises ones’ expectations, with comedic talents like Regina Hall, Issa Rae and Marsai Martin (who not only is an executive producer, but came up with the idea for the film) and the script co-written by Tracy Oliver (who co-wrote Girls Trip). Will Little succeed as a funny comedy that will hopefully wash out the bad aftertaste that is Night School?
Jordan (Regina Hall) is a take-no-prisoners tech mogul who torments her long-suffering assistant, April (Issa Rae), and the rest of her employees on a daily basis. She soon faces an unexpected threat to her personal life and career when she magically transforms into a 13-year-old version of herself (Marsai Martin) right before a presentation that could make or break the company. Jordan will now need to rely on April more than ever — if April is willing to stop treating Jordan like a 13-year-old child who has a severe attitude problem.
Does the film provide a crowdpleasing experience that lives up to the modest entries of its type? While it may not be infuriating as Night School, unfortunately Little is the perfect case of its title being the review of the film; being that it provides little mirth and little else. The set-up for the film does lend some promise, as the talent cast try their best with the subpar material. Regina Hall is a hoot as the uptight, mean and boisterous devil of a boss and Issa Rae provides a good complimentary presence as the straight-face role, reacting to the loud antics with aplomb.
But once Hall disappears and Martin takes centre stage, not only does the lead get smaller, the film’s promise follows suit. Just to be clear, the fault does not lie with the cast, as they all try their best to give punch to the material, but the script and filmmaking do not help them out very much. Marsai Martin plays the part of young Jordan quite well, making the most out of the physical comedy of the role. Particularly during a scene where she interacts with her teacher (Justin Hartley, who once again plays a flirtation device [sic]). But unfortunately, as with most studio comedies these days, the best jokes in the film are featured in the trailer. Although credit must be given since some of the jokes in the trailer feature alternate takes, which means the footage in the film plays out differently in comparison.
As for the rest of the film, comedic scenes just drag on and on due to the lack of discipline in Tina Gordon Chism‘s direction, not knowing when to start or end a joke. The film suffers from its comedic bent, which is to throw every gag on the screen and seeing if it sticks; as well as tired improv. And when the comedy starts to fail and plod, you find yourself not caring very much about the story or the characters due to how derivative it all is.
Will Jordan ever get to her original form? Will Jordan learn to be a better person throughout the film? Will April learn to be more assertive in order to get what she wants? Will there be a comedy dance sequence? Will there be a comedic use of a white character taking ebonics? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you’ve technically seen Little.
It’s a real shame to say that Little just amounts to its namesake, despite all the comedic talent involved and the palpable premise. Little charm, little mirth, little else.
This review can be also seen at IMPULSE GAMER. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.
Cast: Marsai Martin, Issa Rae, Regina Hall, JD McCrary, Justin Hartley, Mikey Day, Blair Jasin, Chelsea Hayes, Rachel Dratch
Director: Tina Gordon Chism
Screenwriters: Tracy Oliver, Tina Gordon Chism