Little (12A)

Comedy (2019)
109mins US

Starring: Issa Rae, Regina Hall, Marsai Martin
Director: Tina Gordon
Writer(s): Tracy Oliver, Tina Gordon
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Selfish technology company doyenne Jordan Sanders mistreats staff especially her long-suffering personal assistant, April. The bullying entrepreneur meets her match in a sassy young girl, who tries to bring down Jordan in size with the fateful words: "I wish you were my age." The next morning, Jordan stares into the mirror, into the eyes of her 13-year-old self. Somehow, she has been transformed into the awkward teenager from her past. Assistant April is dumbfounded.

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LondonNet Film Review
Little (12A)

Growing up with the benefit of battle-scarred hindsight is child's play in Little, a surprisingly heartfelt body-swap comedy from the producer of Girls Trip, which is blessed with eye-catching performances from an all-female lead cast. Like the acid-tongued central character - an ambitious tech entrepreneur who mercilessly bullies everyone in her orbit - director Tina Gordon's film conceals sentimentality and sincerity behind a polished exterior. The script, co-written by Gordon and Tracy Oliver, gently tugs heartstrings as the high-flying harridan learns valuable life lessons about friendship and gratitude. Occasionally, characters get bogged down in emotional syrup including a confession of love between a hunky artist and his sweetheart (who has been magically transformed into her younger self) that works a little too hard to preach a sermon about loving yourself...

Little. Copyright: 2019 Universal Studios. Caption: Issa Rae as April Williams and Marsai Martin as little Jordan Sanders in Little, directed by Tina Gordon. Photo: Eli Joshua Ade. All Rights Reserved.Thankfully, excessive sweetness is largely tempered with saucy humour that strikes a pleasing balance between naughty and nice. Regina Hall and 14-year-old Black-ish star Marsai Martin are well matched as two faces of a control freak protagonist, who throws a fit if her slippers aren't precisely 53cm away from her bed or the merest whiff of a carbohydrate drifts through her split-level office. The biggest laughs are pick-pocketed by Issa Rae though, who knows what happens when people exclude doughnuts from their diet: "They start seeing Satan!" Amen.

App designer Jordan Sanders (Hall) mistreats her staff, especially her overworked assistant April (Rae). Workers scurry for cover when Jordan slinks into the office but the bullying boss meets her match in a magic-obsessed girl (Marley Taylor), who angrily waves her plastic magic wand and proclaims: "I wish you were my age." The following morning, Jordan stares into her mirror and her 13-year-old self (Martin) squints back. "Wishes don't come true or I'd be on maternity leave with Michael B Jordan's baby by now," quips assistant April, the only person that a distraught Jordan trusts with her secret. Soon after, Agent Bea (Rachel Dratch) from Child Protective Services informs April that she faces a spell behind bars unless teenage Jordan enrols at Windsor Middle School. With a business pitch to her company's largest client just 48 hours away, Jordan nervously trudges back to school where she is consigned to the misfits table in the canteen alongside Isaac (JD McCrary), Raina (Thalia Tran) and Devon (Tucker Meek).

Little is a mirror image of its central character: imperfect but extremely likeable when it dares to wear a fragile heart on its sleeve. Martin is luminous, navigating a tricky transformation from snarling brat to repentant team player including a superfluous karaoke scene in a restaurant, which uses chunky breadsticks as microphones. By the closing credits of Gordon's picture, we're singing the same upbeat tune of mutual respect and cooperation.

- Sam Cannon

Little. Copyright: 2019 Universal Studios. Caption: Issa Rae as April Williams and Marsai Martin as little Jordan Sanders in Little, directed by Tina Gordon. Photo: Eli Joshua Ade. All Rights Reserved.

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