Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Young Marsai Martin Does 'Little' in a Big Way

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Young Marsai Martin Does 'Little' in a Big Way

Article excerpt

"Producer Will Packer brings an all-new perspective to the body-swap comedy," according to Universal's production notes for the movie at hand.

Suddenly, upon reading that, I was stunned to realize that body-switching - comic as well as tragic - is considered a whole separate film genre in itself. A quick Googling produced no fewer than 150 titles for such escapist photoplays, dating back to 1916.

That's big.

This is "Little." It features Regina Hall ("Girls Trip," "Insecure" and "The Hate U Give") as Jordan, the high-powered empress of a cutting-edge tech company, who terrorizes her own employees - including best bud April, "Insecure's" Issa Rae - to produce more and better ideas. Bad karma catches up with her when she tangles with a little girl - a kind of Hogwarts dropout - wielding a lame-looking magic wand.

Presto change-o! Overnight, Jordan is transformed into her scrawny, 13-year-old self (Marsai Martin of "black-ish"), back at Windsor Middle School in 1993, sporting a Pepto-Bismol pink jumpsuit and a gigantic Afro that must have had its own ZIP code.

Friend April is understandably incredulous: "You went to bed grown, and then you woke up little? That's for white people, 'cuz black people don't have the time."

They get into a fight in the school parking lot, where the security guard calls for backup: "We have a BMW situation - Black Mama Whoopin'."

Writer-director Tina Gordon Chism makes the most of the idea, which was originated by - are you ready? - young Marsai herself, at age 10, when the little ABC co-star of "black-ish" says she was inspired by seeing Penny Marshall's "Big" (1988).

Here, Marsai gets to sing "I'm Goin' Down," drunk and writhing around on a bar. More wholesomely, she bonds with her fellow outcasts for the obligatory high school talent show - a great Nerd Quartet dance number.

Never mind that she hasn't the faintest resemblance to her older version, Ms. …

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