As I was walking into a movie called Little I overheard a guy tell his date, “It didn’t occur to me until now that it’s like the reverse of Big.”
That’s a pretty good self-contained joke right there and I chuckled smugly to myself about what an idiot you’d have to be to say something like that out loud. I took a bitchy sip of my diet soda and settled in. “Big in reverse,” I thought to myself. “Well obviously! This should be pretty good.”
Regina Hall, Issa Rae from Insecure, a body-swap plot… why not?
It wasn’t until Regina Hall’s character, Jordan Sanders, “the tech queen of Atlanta,” transformed into a 13-year-old girl that I realized the fatal flaw of a “Big in reverse” plot.
The beauty of Big or 13 Going On 30 is that it’s fun to watch a big star like Tom Hanks or Jennifer Garner act like a little kid for a whole movie. Now reverse that. And you’ve got… right, a little kid acting like Tom Hanks. Probably a lot less material there, right? It’s like School of Rock without Jack Black, or Billy Madison without Adam Sandler.
Not that Little doesn’t start off promising up until that point. Regina Hall’s Jordan Sanders is your typical ice queen business lady, comically demanding, yelling at her assistant for being asleep at 6 am and for not putting her slippers the correct distance from her bed. Jordan bullies everyone before they can bully her, a lesson she learned after a formative talent show mishap back in middle school. “It’s because you’re little,” her father tells her in the flashback scene. “Someday you’ll be big, and people will appreciate you for being smart. When you’re smart you get to be the boss.”
Equating smarts with financial success is a tragic miscalculation, though I do remember adults perpetuating that particular myth in the 90s. Issa Rae, meanwhile, plays Jordan’s long-suffering assistant, April, who spends her morning meditation listening to “How Not To Slap Your Boss” on Audiobook. Jordan’s employees scatter like cockroaches as she storms towards the office, everyone except the nerdy little girl who practices magic outside the office near her father’s doughnut truck (foreshadowing!), who reminds Jordan a little too much of herself at that age.