This snappy take on the ’80s body-swap formula reaps fresh laughs and committed turns from its talented cast.
Hot on the heels of the gleeful ‘Shazam!’, the old-fashioned delights of body-swap comedy turn up again in director Tina Gordon’s ‘Little’, the lovechild of ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘Big’. While truly inspired laughs are in short supply here (the pop-culture jokes of co-scribes Gordon and Tracy Oliver could use some sharpening up), ‘Little’ avoids feeling too secondhand thanks to its central black characters, who freshen up a tired formula.
Regina Hall plays the intimidating Atlanta-based tech empress Jordan Sanders, an isolated and notorious bully, still avenging her painful childhood as a picked-on science nerd. Tormenting her whip-smart assistant April (‘Insecure’s charismatic Issa Rae), Jordan falls victim to an angry kid’s magic wand which transforms the ill-mannered mogul into her 13-year-old self.
As the suddenly teenage Jordan, Marsai Martin (also, remarkably, an executive producer who came up with the idea for this film) has astonishing comic timing. Slipping into the hilariously precise mannerisms of an adult – she flirts with grown-ups, orders cocktails and so on – the Jordan teams up with the hitherto under-appreciated April for a high-stakes presentation. Meanwhile, she returns to her former school and takes a group of adorably unpopular kids under her wing.
From Jordan’s Alexa-like virtual assistant (voiced with brazen attitude by Tracee Ellis Ross from ‘Black-ish’) to Danielle Hollowell’s glamorous costumes and a vivacious, nicely choreographed hip hop finale, ‘Little’ is very watchable. Still, its character journeys are half-realised and it lacks the poignant depth of ‘Girls Trip’. Regardless, ‘Little’ wears the theme of black sisterhood on its sleeve, growing into something winning by prioritising contemporary concerns over nostalgia.
Cast and crew