Let’s forget about disturbing-if-you-think-about-it-too-long body-swap classics such Freaky Friday, Big, and any other movie you can think of where folks switch identities. Little is a film where an adult bully becomes a bullied child, and a bullied office subordinate hopes to become less subordinate, and it’s funny enough for the whole can’t-see-an-R-rated-movie family or date night.
Issa Rae, who stars in and created Insecure on the Home Box, is the, well, insecure bullied office subordinate. She’s really funny, and you want her to succeed in business, she’s trying. Regina Hall, from Girls Trip and a bunch of other stuff including a story arc on Insecure, is the sufficiently believable asshole bully boss who takes the fall all the way back to middle school social outcast. The office-drama comedy parts of this movie would work fine as an episode of Insecure, but there are added magical wrinkles and stuff about some school children learning about themselves, and parts of this movie could be seen as borderline Hollywood child abuse/exploitation as far as some comedic moments of adult attraction being presented through the physical manifestation of a child (said child portrayed by movie-stealing Marsai Martin), but nothing ever goes too far, and it seems like maybe the filmmakers jumped past a couple of overt or shocking moments.
And so this movie succeeds, because it is crafted not to require explicit or shocking moments. When you decide to step out and take in a movie, ideally and selfishly, you are thinking of seeing a movie that you are specifically interested in, while the entire movie experience is in itself, entertaining as an activity taken on the whole; making a date, maybe getting dressed up a little, or possibly you’re doing something with the kids, or a parent or other elder, plus snacks. As a group, there probably isn’t going to be a strong consensus on what to see. There are movies out there for situations where your crowd cannot agree to see a three-hour comic book epic, or an R-rated violencer, or a movie about not getting an abortion. Some people just split up in the lobby and see what they want, but sometimes you compromise and all sit down in the same auditorium for a flick that is the least disagreeable option for your party. This is something my brother calls the Crocodile Dundee Option, a movie that will just barely touch the corners of an edge, an exercise in satisfying an average; not too strong in any direction, a decent plot, with enough laughs to get you to the bottom of your popcorn tub.
So, this film has it all; lots of laughs, magical body swapping, career struggle, personal growth, lessons about bullying and self-confidence for children, and a few guys who could “get it,” PG-13 style: Luke James, Tone Bell, and some guy from This is Us. Also: Mikey Day from Saturday Night Live as a douche-privileged tech zillionaire. Plus: Glow ups.