|Little film poster.|
"Kids are mean," many nonchalantly say as though this resolves the huge bullying problem.Little opens with junior high schooler Jordan Sanders's triumphant moment. Unfortunately, it becomes a perfect time for public humiliation to strike-- not ala dance spectacle like most films surrounding coming of age teen drama. After Jordan's onstage scientific feat, the mean girl pushes back, physically hurting Jordan and singlehandedly traumatizing her to death.
|Jordan (Regina Hall) messes with the wrong child.|
On the opposite spectrum, Jordan's assistant April is eerily similar to Little Jordan. The donut lover surrounds herself in art supplies, dresses with quirky spunk, and doubts her creative abilities. In fact, she mumbles a lot. Preston, her co-worker, encourages her to speak up. Like everyone else in the company, April is terrified of Jordan. However, April seems to fear herself more.
Jordan is only insecure around Connor-- the firm's biggest client is a rich white guy. He sits in her chair, props his feet on her desk, and announces that he is moving his finances elsewhere unless they can keep him interested/invested. At this, Jordan goes berserk in the staff meeting, screaming at someone to have a good idea. April keeps mum. An on edge Jordan threatens to fire them all and eventually yells out to the donut man's adorable daughter. The daughter retaliates with a wand flicker and shouts, "I wish you were little!"
Black Girl Magic happens.
|April (Issa Rae) and Little Jordan (Marsai Martin) aren't too keen on Young Jordan returning to school mostly because April doesn't want to go to jail.|
Little Jordan is the exact opposite of Never Been Kissed's Josie Gellar (the overly enthusiastic, twenty-five-year-old journalist disguising as a high schooler versus thirty-eight-year-old Jordan magically stuck in her younger self's middle school body). Little Jordan is cursed into going back to school as opposed to incognito. With the mind of an adult, she develops a hilarious crush on her teacher and finds she has no power over her "peers." Sadly harassed, ridiculed, and humiliated on her first day, she once again faces the unstoppable bullying and links in with the uncool crowd-- three naïve kids who believe that unveiling their talents will make them fit in. It is the same innocence Little Jordan had. Perhaps that need had been buried deep, never fully dissolving. Those of us that have experienced bullying (the straws placed in Little Jordan's massive afro are almost as bad as having spitballs launched at you everyday) can find empathy in Little Jordan's plight. To torment another for the expense of laughter and being a "bigger" person can have weighty consequences emotionally, mentally, psychologically, especially around that seeking age where childhood becomes teenage uncertainty.
|After their big climatic fight, April (Issa Rae) and Little Jordan (Marsai Martin) make up and bond.|
|Brand new, reawakened Jordan (Regina Hall) returns.|
Little is a humorously enjoyable film initiated by the youngest producer in Hollywood history-- Marsai Martin. The credits introduce Martin though most audiences know the award-winning actress as Diane Johnson on black*ish. The chemistry between Martin and Issa Rae and between Rae and Regina Hall lights up the screen in absolutely genuine and delightful ways. This charming combination articulately expresses challenges Black women must endure, mostly alone. It is also great that Eva Carlton plays both Caren Greene (Jordan's bully) and Jasmine (Little Jordan's bully), symbolizing that the junior high mean girl will always be replaced by a carbon copy. She will always be there to torment the low self-esteem kids. Teachers like Mr. Marshall (played by Justin Hartley) will never be able to punish spoiled girls like her enough. The love interests start off with promise, especially April and Preston, but fizzle with underdevelopment by the end.
Still, this big screen Blackness is so beautiful and refreshing. All this melanin. For brown and dark brown skinned girls and women with 4C hair and distinctive African features who laugh out loud, are authentic, smart, creative, and bond with other women like them-- this celebrates and uplifts us.
Lastly, Little is popcorn fluff bringing on laughs and blushes, a solid escapism, especially for the Black girls who have been bullied and bounced into adulthood, valiantly holding onto their passions whether it be for science, technology, art, and all the other things that make us special and great. Money cannot buy and manufacture what is natural within.