Starring: Regina Hall, Issa Rae, Marsai Martin
Director: Tina Gordon
Running Time: 109 mins
Little is an American film about an overbearing boss who is magically transformed into her child self, needing to rediscover her true character while her assistant takes charge of her business.
First things first, leave all your Big comparisons at the door. While the title and premise are certainly inspired by the Tom Hanks movie, there’s pretty much nothing else to the story that’s the same, and that’s perhaps one of its biggest weaknesses.
Little, for the most part, is an entertaining and light-hearted movie. But it’s a movie that’s caught in an awkward middle ground between family-friendly entertainment and something that’s a little more for the grown-ups, and that makes it rather difficult to really love.
Let’s start on the plus side, however, with the film’s performances. Regina Hall, though not in the film all the way through, is great as an aggressively high-demanding boss, while Issa Rae is fairly likable throughout. However, Marsai Martin, who plays Regina Hall’s younger alter ego, is by far the best.
Full of confidence and energy from start to finish, Martin really goes all out in mimicking Hall’s adult character, something that really isn’t easy for such a young actor to do. While the screenplay doesn’t exactly afford her the most convincing characterisation, Martin’s performance really makes you believe in the film’s story more than anything else about it.
That being said, there are parts of Little which don’t really gel at all well with that story, as the film finds itself caught in between family-friendly fantasy entertainment and more adult comedy. In all truth, it doesn’t exactly nail either, but the movie does tend towards more adult sensibilities in its comedy, and more childish sensibilities in its premise.
It’s a difficult balance to strike, and films like Sausage Party or The Happytime Murders which have attempted to take typically family-friendly concepts and ‘adult’ them up a little have almost always fallen flat. Little is nowhere near as insufferable as either of those films, owing to a fairly bland screenplay, but I found myself confused as to how I should be judging the film’s comedy.
If it’s meant to be a little more family-friendly, then its light but rather bland story can be excused, whereas if it’s meant to be more adult, then it’s quite the dull affair, without the raucous or edgy humour that could have delivered far more laughs.
Overall, I was rather disappointed by Little. Despite strong performances, particularly from the young Marsai Martin, the movie is a confused and generally bland affair, with a lack of genuinely captivating or funny comedy, and an awkward blend of family-friendly and adult sensibilities. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.3 overall.