Film review: ‘LITTLE’, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Little, the latest film for What Men Want writer/director Tina Gordon tries to follow in the tradition of Freaky Friday, Suddenly 30, 17 Again and Tom Hanks’ Big, in what might be called the ‘pseudo-magical body transformation film’ where, by becoming someone else, a person is given a new view on their life and if they’re a prat they’re (supposedly) redeemed or if they’re timid and uncertain they become a corporate shark.

Full of unfunny, misfiring gags, shrill performances, poor character development, an insultingly obvious plot and a tedious soundtrack of limp r’n’b, Little is one of the worst additions to that sub-genre.

Here, Regina Hall plays corporate meanie Jordan Sanders, a tech entrepreneur who treats her staff – particularly her personal assistant April (Issa Rae) – like garbage. Jordan engages in flat-out bullying that would probably see her imprisoned in the real world. This is the film’s first mistake, Jordan’s so obnoxious that we don’t want redemption for her we want nothing less than her destruction. Her life is thrown into some sort of turmoil when she pisses off what appears to be a tween witch who turns Jordan back into her 13-year-old self (Masai Martin). Forced by child services to go to school, Jordan has to once again face the world of teen bullying that apparently turned her into a monster in the first place while April takes the company’s reins.

This is essentially one of those Hanna Montana-style Saturday morning teen comedies that has been inadvisably shoved onto the big screen. Consequently, people should enter this film with very low expectations. Neither Jordan’s teen rites of passage redemption story or April’s corporate self-actualisation journey are vaguely engaging or funny. They mostly provide a platform for obvious and dull gags, a lot of annoying contemporary catchphrases and product placement.

Not only is Little not very funny or engaging, it’s clumsily constructed with scenes such as a sing-off between teen Jordan and April in restaurant shunted into the story to no effect other than confusion. Also, characters who look as if they’ll be important to the plot, such as Jordan’s male model-like history teacher (Justin Hartely) drift in and out of the film and are eventually forgotten.

Most of the performances aren’t very redeeming and too often involve people screeching at each other but young Masai Martin shows some nascent talent and will be a name to watch in years to come.

It’s hard to tell at whom who this film is aimed. It’s mostly childish histrionics and pratfalls but there’s some awkward adult moments such as a male stripper suddenly performing in front of April and teen Jordan.

As a redemption story Little barely works and as a comedy it barely registers. It’s not completely toxic but it’s one of the year’s early duds.

Nick’s rating: *1/2

Genre: Comedy.

Classification: PG.

Director(s): Tina Gordon.

Release date: 11th April 2019.

Running time: 109 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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