There is a strong chance that you will have figured out the ending to Little within its opening minutes. You may have drawn up a body-swap movie bingo card, and can stamp out the boxes as you go: a time-sensitive challenge, a big musical number, life lessons learned.
If you’re worrying that knowing the fail-safe formula for this strand of caper will harm your enjoyment of Tina Gordon Chism’s film, stop. A self-aware slice of contemporary comedy, the film embraces its genre early on, when a freshly shrunk Jordan briefs her assistant April (Issa Rae) on her predicament. “That’s for white people, because black people don’t have the time,” is April’s disbelieving retort.
Little builds to a dual finish line; April must pitch to one of Jordan’s most important tech clients or else risk the future of the company, while young Jordan returns to high school, where a big talent show could be her chance to change her fate.
Hall — a versatile comedy actress who conjured laughs in the Scary Movie franchise and emotional depth in Girls Trip — brings her own flair to the boss from hell. At once outrageously rude but totally likeable, she makes Jordan prone to bouts of childish tantrums that help the body-swap transition feel organic. The jittery star and showrunner of HBO’s Insecure, Rae proves a natural on the big screen as April, smuggling in lightning-quick one-liners between Jordan’s fits of rage.
An intergenerational body-swap story, however, lives and dies by its child star, and thankfully 14-year-old Marsai Martin — who is also executive producer on the film — comes through with impeccable comedic timing.
The surrounding film inevitably fails to keep up with these vigorously funny women — the storyline is paper thin, the moral messages overwhelming — but it does well to complement their talents with robust, complex characters that outshine all the stuff we’ve seen before.