Little is too small to be Big.
It’s no surprise that “Little” is like “Big” in reverse. In that movie, a kid becomes Tom Hanks because of a wish, and in this movie, Regina Hall becomes a kid because of a wish. Unfortunately, the movie has to rely on a series of typical cliches and attitudes. Even the poster has to look so awkward in this concept.
Hall stars as Jordan Sanders, a spoiled, abusive, and mean-spirited tech boss, who mistreats her assistant April (Issa Rae, the creator and star of HBO’s “Insecure” and YouTube’s “Awkward Black Girl”) and just about everyone around her. She has a good idea for a new app, but as always, Jordan slams her promotion.
This introduction of her being mean to everyone is too much for me to handle. She licks a guy’s apple and forces him to take a bit, and she pushes a woman in a chair to a wall. It’s exhausting in this part.
After her meeting, Jordan comes face-to-face with a child magician (Marley Taylor), who knows that she was mistreated as a child, and decides to put a curse on her by making her 13 again. The next day, she comes to office as her old glasses-wearing-bushy-haired-child self (Marsai Martin from ABC’s hit comedy series “Black-ish”).
She tells April about her predicament, and he gains her vengeance by acting like a parent: telling her to say “please,” and spanking her in a parking lot.
To make matters worse, a social services agent (Rachel Dratch) forces Jordan to go to school, and April has to pretend to be her aunt. The school she’s enrolled in is the last place she wants to be, because of her hard childhood there. And her tensions increase when she deals with an abusive girl (Eva Carlton).
On the other hand, though, her new teacher is the gorgeous Mr. Marshall (Justin Hartley), whom Jordan has a thing for. This part is obviously funny, when she becomes attracted to him, and he tells her to stop looking at her like that. But it ends like a fly swat.
And April has to cover her at the office, especially when she’s about to lose a jerky client (Mikey Day). She gains a better connection with the young Jordan than she did with the older version.
“Little” was co-written and directed by Tina Gordon, whose directorial debut was “Peeples,” and contributed screenplays for “Drumline,” “ATL,” and recent turkey “What Men Want.” I liked the way she gives the movie a colorful look with the outfits and vehicles. And I liked some of the jokes in the movie, like April not knowing that Gary Coleman is dead or her trying to trick the agent into thinking an Obama photo is her brother.
It is interesting to see Martin play a spoiled adult inside an insecure child with her dialogue, disposition, and attitude; and Rae provides the goods as her assistant.
But the problem with this “Big” reversed rip-off is its formulaic cliches. There’s always has to be a school bully, there’s always would-be romances, and there’s always talent shows with losers proving they’re winners on the inside. The mean behavior gets stressful, and the insecurities get annoying.
It’s funny and touching at times, but it’s not something I’d see again and again.