by Ian Morton
Little plays it safe as it follows in the same footsteps as Big, 17 Again and 13 Going on 30, and while it does get a little lost, some bright performances from an impressive cast are enjoyable enough to keep you company along the way.
Flipping the 1988 classic, ‘Big’ on its head, the story follows hugely successful businesswoman, Jordan Sanders on a path of redemption, going from dragon queen to pussy cat in a somewhat stretched hour and 47 minutes.
Giving us some context on how the queen rules her kingdom, the opening scenes sketches the day-to-day movements of the shrewd CEO in order to highlight the plight of the world around her. Played by the feisty Regina Hall, it’s a brutal beginning, taking advantage of the actors comedic routes with each passing quip and conference room put-down that both plays to Hall’s meticulous timing and sets up the audience for the journey ahead.
After one too many moments of venom however, Sanders finds herself on the wrong side of an upcoming magician and the wrong end of a magic wand, turning extreme entrepreneur to angst-ridden teenager, Regina Hall into big screen newcomer, Marsai Martin and unfortunately, exciting re-imaging to confused reboot.
Sticking closely to the roots of the genre playbook proves to be the key to success as well as the pin in the balloon for Little. The strength of its first act is directly related to an almost rote understanding of the age-swap narrative while at the same time binds its wrists to a saccarine sweet ending. It’s at this point that the film struggles to bridge the gap, losing the momentum it rapidly builds early on before limping to an all too familiar ending.
While this slip in storytelling does feel a little jarring at times, the stumbling plot is vindicated by some brilliant performances from the main cast. As mentioned above, Regina Hall is the definition of the office bitch, laying a brilliant foundation for an even more impressive, Marsai Martin to make a confident big screen debut. Mimicking Hall in every sense, the sheer conviction to which the character is played makes you believe that the two actresses embody the same character.
The real spark here however comes in the form of Issa Rae. Like Hall, it’s a film that gives the actress a platform to show off her comedy chops in all the right ways. While not on screen for long, the short appearances from the every-man character steal the show, provides the most memorable moments and periodically props everything up as the plot slowly deflates around them.
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