On this year’s Labor Day, I watched Tina Gordon‘s comedy about unsolicited second chances, Little (2019). Like the other well-known films Freaky Friday (1976 and 2003 versions), Vice Versa (Brian Gilbert, 1988), The Kid (Jon Turtletaub, 2000), 13 Going on 30 (Gary Winick, 2004), and 17 Again (Burr Steers, 2009), where adults and children swap bodies in some manner (via parent-child or adult-child switching), Little focuses on Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall) and what she must do in order to return to her adult life after a run-in with a wand-wielding wise kid (Marley Taylor) puts her back into her thirteen year-old body. Her personal assistant April (a hilarious Issa Rae)* is her one hope for troubleshooting this unbelievable turn of events and helping her find a solution.
Little‘s opening sequence introduces the viewer to adolescent Jordan (Marsai Martin), a smart girl who experiences a humiliating injury at the hands of a school bully in a school talent show and vows to grow up to become successful and to gain the upper (social) hand that she presumably will never get to have as a kid. Translation: she’s mean to everyone, belittles her employees, and can’t even be defended with being well-intentioned but too brutally honest.
Adult Jordan is the owner of a tech company whose biggest client is about to take his business elsewhere unless he is pitched a stellar idea for a gaming app. To her dismay, her brusque and discourteous attitude upsets a donut truck owner’s daughter, who not only confronts Jordan’s rudeness, but also wishes her to become little again. Something happens because Adult Jordan wakes up as thirteen year-old Jordan the following morning. Shenanigans of all kinds ensue, including a call to child protective services, a hot teacher, Adult Jordan’s man-friend, going back to middle school, and awkward behavior in public places.
Through the majority of the film, which the director co-wrote with Tracy Oliver, I was reminded of the aforementioned adult-child-swap films but thought it brought a level of novelty because the primary issue is an entitled adult whose corporeal predicament forces her to admit she treats people terribly, how she became that way, and to not quite repent, but definitely proclaim that she’s learned her lesson, will amend her ways, become a better person, and only then can she tranform back into her adult body.
But, the final narrative arc’s focal point shifts to reminding the audience that kids know who they are and shouldn’t let the world bully them into conformity (just to fit in) or forgetting who they are — and something about apologizing for being mean.
According to one of the special features on the DVD, Marsai Martin pitched the idea of the movie to producer Will Packer when she was ten years-old. I laughed out loud many times as I was watching Little, liked seeing the various exteriors recognizable as downtown or midtown Atlanta, and delighted in the dynamic between April and adolescent Jordan. Strangely, it was more entertaining than the boss-employee relationship between Adult Jordan and April.
* My favorite line of hers is “That’s what happens when people don’t eat carbs; they start seeing Satan.”
Pic cred: IMDB