A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Little is like a flipped take on Big, with 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: April 12, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: July 9, 2019
- Cast: Issa Rae, Regina Hall, Marsai Martin
- Director: Tina Gordon Chism
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Middle School
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some suggestive content
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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