McCoy on Movies: Little

McCoy on Movies: Little

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Black-ish producer and co-star team up for a film that our movie critic says is great-ish for teens, adults alike. Click to find out why.

 

“You expect ME to tell her she didn’t get the black-ish spin-off?! This is why she’s making a movie jump now!” April Williams (Issa Rae) has a very uncomfortable meeting with her now-13 again boss Jordan Sanders (Marsai Martin) in a scene from director Tina Gordon’s comedy LITTLE. Credit: © 2019 Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.

 

WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:

 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Marsai Martin, Issa Rae, Regina Hall, Luke James, Tone Bell, Thalia Tran, JD McCrary, Tucker Meek, Marley Taylor, Eva Carlton, Justin Hartley, Rachel Dratch and Mikey Day


DIRECTOR(S): Tina Gordon

THE BACK STORY: Brought to you by black-ish creator Kenya Barris (who serves as a producer on the film), Little stars as Regina Hall as Jordan Sanders, a 38 year-old successful CEO of her own technology company located in Atlanta. There’s just one thing about Jordan that seems to drive everyone around her crazy: Her insane work ethic and mean-spirited nature drive everyone – her employees, her neighbors, people at stores she frequents and especially her over-worked and highly under-appreciated assistant April Williams (Issa Rae) – crazy. But since Jordan learned at the age of 13 that people can be mean-spirited, she made a vow that when she became big, she would be the boss and bully everyone else before they could bully her.

Now, the tables have turned and Jordan has been mean to the wrong person, which is why she wakes up only to find herself facing her worst fear: Being 13 again.

Cursed to relive the worse age of her life when she was little, Jordan finds herself out of her element. Now, she is forced to rely on April to run her company, can’t spend any quality time with her “D-Boy” (Luke James), drink, drive … Or, after a Child Protective Services agent (Rachel Dratch) is called to her home where April is posing as her aunt, the one thing she hates more than anything else in the world: A return to her old middle school. But with a major pitch to video game upstart Connor (Mikey Day) that could make or break her company on the line, the last thing Jordan has time for is dealing with mean-spirited classmates like Jasmine (Eva Carlton). 

THE REVIEW: Sometimes, when you’ve got a special team in place, you get products that show what happens when you let their creativity bring new life to an old idea. And trust me, the idea behind Little is freakishly old for a movie hitting theaters nationwide this Friday. (If you couldn’t figure out that reference, you shouldn’t be reading this; you should be trying to become little yourself so you can find all the requisite viewing your childhood apparently lacked.) So, given the success Barris and company have had with black-ish and its subsequent spinoff grown-ish, it really should come as no surprise that Little is big-ish on laughs and heart.

First off, while Rae delivers a great performance as a grown woman taking orders from a child half her size, it’s Martin’s performance as a grown adult in a child’s body that wins the movie. Martin is so good in her role there are times that while you don’t forget she actually is a child, you may be taken with just how excellent she is at mastering all of the adult things she nails in the film. Be it a woman feeling amorous, running a company or a young child dealing with the horrors of middle school, Martin hits every note like a Grammy Award winner for best new artist before realizing that they were once a successful indie artist that has just been given a shot on a major label. A bigger scope just showcases the talent they possess on a grander stage, which is exactly what Martin does in Little. She holds center court with adults in every scene when paired up with actors twice her literal size to the point the film never feels unbelievable; when acting around peers her own age she feels as out of place as someone who is supposed to be 38 would around today’s snarky social media savvy (try tweeting that three times fast!) teens.

Throw in a perfect balance of youthful exuberance by the film’s young cast to work alongside the adults – Hall, by the way, does her job well in her limited but largely crucial screen time – and Little delivers original laughs by putting a fresh coast of paint on the “fish out of water” scenario body switch movies have given of such a familiar formula. Little is so well done that its blackness never is a dominant trait of the film; sure, there are some “black girl magic” references and whatnot, but if you go into Little thinking its going to touch the same issues you’d find in a typical story arc of black-ish, you’ll either be highly disappointed or highly surprised. Little is just a good film that stars a large African-American cast, not a film with a lot of African-Americans that just happens to be good – that distinction. As African-Americans continue to prove there’s more to the black entertainment experience than just being pimps, thugs and slaves – they can be quirky, insecure (see what I did there, Issa Rae fans), have the same concerns as anyone else about work and life, etc. – Little delivers a big step forward in making sure that ideal isn’t forgotten by Hollywood anytime soon.

Thus, much like a middle school talent show that actually features more talent than you’d expect, Little delivers big entertainment value mature (and maturing) audiences will enjoy.

 

OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

 

 

 

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