Little

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Little Movie Poster Image
Mean young teen carouses and curses in age-swap comedy.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Key takeaways are that we know who we are when we're children, before the world beats us up, and that you should be true to yourself/not let anyone else define you. But those positive messages may be muted to kids, while iffier line uttered in beginning of film is more likely to stick: When you're the boss, no one bullies you, because you can bully them first.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two lead characters are black women: One started a successful tech company, one is a doormat; they're not ideal role model material. Black men are depicted as kind, thoughtful, compassionate. A teen girl is a science whiz. School chums are multiethnic.

Violence

Lots of pushing and shoving, including a bully pushing a type of wrecking ball into a child, which causes injury. Comic spanking accompanied by line, "Start spanking your kids!" Talk about getting a belt to "whoop" a child. 

Sex

Various scenes signal to adults that something sexual is happening, but they may go over kids' heads: A shirtless man dances provocatively (but not too suggestively) as a sexual mating call; a man serves coffee in the morning (adults will know he slept with the woman the night before); a teen girl comes on to her teacher; a teen girl touches an adult man inappropriately (viewers only know that from his reaction, and he never says what she did). Story told about woman losing her virginity. Women gesture to their genitals. Adults kiss. Young teen sings sultrily on top of a bar.

Language

Language includes "ass," "balls," "bitch," "crackhead," "crackbaby," "crap," "damn," "hell," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), "we're screwed," "stupid," "sucks." A girl stops herself before completing the phrase "what the f--k." Also lots of mean/insulting language, including adult woman name-calling a child to her face -- all played for laughs. Adult repeatedly tears down a 4-year-old girl's appearance.

Consumerism

Brands mentioned and logos displayed include Apple, Christian Mingle, Easy-Bake Oven, Honda, Fiat, Lyft, Postmates, Target, Tinder, Xanax, and TV series Empire. Jordan says that she can do/get away with anything because she's rich and insults another by calling them "broke-ass." Success is equated with aspirational materialism, including expensive sports car, high-fashion wardrobe, closet that looks like a Rodeo Drive boutique.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Women drink as a way to let off steam/for romance. One sips wine and says, "This is heaven." A young teen continually tries to drink, like grabbing a bottle of rosé (saying "it's too early for tequila shots") and ordering liquor at a restaurant. Home bar with bottles of alcohol seen in background. Two men drive in a car with pot smoke billowing out of the windows; the passenger is clearly high. Bottles of prescription drugs are seen but not explained; others mention prescription drugs needed for their high-stress job.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Little is like a flipped take on Bigwith an adult being transformed back into a child to (in theory) help her learn some life lessons. After she's injured by a bully, 13-year-old Jordan (Marsai Martin) twists her parents' words of encouragement to understand that when she's an adult/boss, then she can be the bully. Unfortunately, that's likely the message that kids will take from the film, as well as the fact that adult CEO Jordan's (Regina Hall) meanness yields results: success, a lavish lifestyle, and submissive behavior from underlings. Meanwhile, the movie plays for laughs the shock of seeing a young teen treat people (both adults and other kids) like dirt, try to drink, and make sexual advances toward adult men (including her teacher). That said, some of the iffy stuff is written to go over kids' heads. Profanity is common but mild ("damn," "crap," "hell"), with stronger language only implied; sexual innuendo is frequent but subtle; and alcohol and drug references are ever present, but kids may only notice adults drinking wine socially. And Jordan doesn't really experience any big consequences for her behavior, which is likely why the film's intended message of staying true to yourself lands with little impact.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNaustin3 May 22, 2019

Biased review given by Common Sense Media

For a few years, I have relied on Common Sense Media as a gauge for video games and television programs for my two children. Last week was no different, as I re... Continue reading
Adult Written byMommy718 April 13, 2019

A feel good movie but a few uncomfortable scenes

Took my 12 and 13 year old to see. Movie is nothing like Big so it's unfair comparison. Basically Bully Adult realizes it's better to trust and be nic... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFunmovie July 25, 2019

Why

This may have a plot that is similar to big but still is funny in every way
Teen, 13 years old Written byAnother kid April 5, 2020

Something for the whole family

The movie was great. It was really funny and had a great message. A few of the scenes were a bit sexual but overall a good movie. I think it is appropriate for... Continue reading

What's the story?

LITTLE is a comedy about a woman who wakes up in the body of her teen self. Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall) is a demanding, high-powered executive who's making life miserable for her assistant, April (Issa Rae). Just when April can't take it any longer, a strange phenomenon causes Jordan to wake up in a 13-year-old's body. Now April is the only ally that young Jordan (Marsai Martin) has as she balances an important work presentation with the awkwardness of being an adult in middle school.

Is it any good?

Body-swap comedies have been a mainstay ever since Josh Baskin grew up to be Tom Hanks, but a very rude and sometimes lewd tween isn't so entertaining. In other words, Little is no Big. Grown-up Jordan is a ranting, raving tyrant who throws out insults at a rate that would give Don Rickles a run for his money. In fact, how she became so successful in the first place is the biggest question, since she doesn't trust her employees' work and we don't see her do anything other than bark orders. The movie's comedy relies almost exclusively on "oh-no-she-didn't" shock value, which goes up a notch once Jordan becomes a child again. It's intended to be a comeuppance to put a hateful 38-year-old into the body of a young teen, but instead, viewers spend two hours with a smirking eighth-grade sociopath.

Unlike its body- and age-swap predecessors, Little is aimed at millennials. There's not much here that other generations can relate to or -- for kids -- understand. But given the well-publicized fact that Black-ish child actress Martin is an executive producer on the movie and that the poster used the Big font, parents are likely to think that it's appropriate for families. The truth is that kids won't understand or appreciate the nuances of the comedy, and the conclusions that each kid might draw from the film are anyone's guess. But for most kids, a movie that demonstrates that cruelty and verbal abuse lead to success and an extravagant lifestyle is a "little" too much.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of age/body-swap movies like Little. Why are these kinds of stories so appealing? 

  • What message do you think the movie is trying to send? Is there any other message you think it might be unintentionally sending? 

  • How do you define success? If someone makes a lot of money but gets no respect and has no friends, is that person successful?

  • How does the movie portray bullying? What does Jordan learn from her experience? Do you agree with the way she interprets the "lesson" she learns?

  • How does the movie portray drinking? Is it funny to see a teen trying to drink like an adult?

Movie details

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