Inside every big fat bully is a scared, insecure kid. That’s probably what your mother always told you, even if hearing it never actually made you feel much better about your lost lunch money or your undermining boss. But it did give black-ish actress Marsai Martin, now 14, an idea for a movie — one that’s made her the youngest-ever recipient of an executive-producer credit in Hollywood history.
Little’s concept will be familiar to countless body-swap comedy fans: Mercenary tech mogul Jordan (Regina Hall), a Voldemort in red-bottomed stilettos, terrorizes everyone who steps in her path, from baristas and parking valets to her own long-suffering assistant, April (Issa Rae) — until one day she pushes a small bystander with a wand too far, and wakes up returned to the curse of her own 13-year-old self. Can she maintain an iron grip on her imperiled empire, even as Child Protective Services is forcing her back to the living nightmare of junior high?
Martin, as young Jordan, goes a long way toward pulling this scattershot silliness off; she captures her adult counterpart’s hauteur in perfect miniature — a pocket-size empress in a hot-pink pantsuit. Rae is great too, muttering endless one-liners under her breath. The script’s second half drifts, going too soft on teachable moments, but Little still finds its loopy sweet spot: Tom Hanks’ Big flipped and recast as pure black-girl magic.