The body-swapping comedy is an old staple for a good reason: It works! Whether you’re talking about parent-child scenarios as in FREAKY FRIDAY, gender combos like the Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin movie ALL OF ME, or age-based scenarios as in BIG and 13 GOING ON 30, there’s always a new twist.
LITTLE, the April 12 release starring Issa Rae of HBO’s “Insecure,” is a clever new version of the body swap. Rae plays the main character, but she’s not the one who gets a new life. It’s her boss, played by Regina Hall, who wakes up in the body of a 13-year-old, played by Marsai Martin.
Here’s how LITTLE spins the body-switching concept in a new direction.
A Gentle Curse
April (Issa Rae) is a hard-working, ambitious and frustrated assistant to the powerful and mean businesswoman Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall). Sanders has no respect for April’s time and efforts — or those of anyone else around her. She even talks trash to children.
One of the children talks back by effectively cursing Sanders to become little. A day later, the exec finds that she is in a 13-year-old body and a whole lot of her power is gone. People don’t tend to take childish outbursts seriously when they come from actual children.
This all seems like a dream come true for April, and it might be, but first she has to deal with taking on more responsibility at work while also acting as a sort-of surrogate mother to her teenaged boss.
Pitched by Marsai Martin
LITTLE comes from GIRLS TRIP and RIDE ALONG series producer Will Packer and was co-written and directed by Tina Gordon Chism, who wrote DRUMLINE and WHAT MEN WANT. But the original pitch actually came from Marsai Martin, who came up with the idea in part thanks to inspiration from the Tom Hanks classic BIG, while she was working on the show “Black-ish.”
Martin spoke to Essence about how unusual it is to get an idea like this off the ground when you’re a teen actor — even one who has done more than 100 episodes of a popular show! “You don’t really see a 14-year-old girl creating her own stuff and actually making it into theatres,” she adds. “That’s why you have to start working with people that will trust you and will believe that you can do it.”
LITTLE has a great idea at its center, but there’s also incredible talent bringing it to life. Issa Rae is known as a hard-working writer, producer and star thanks to the show “Insecure” and her original web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” Rae has been driven — and thankfully, successful — when it comes to amplifying the comedic voices of people of color. So while she didn’t create LITTLE, the movie fits right in with her body of work. And, of course, Issa Rae is also really, really funny, which will serve the movie well.
Regina Hall has the poise and character to make a nightmarish boss like Jordan Sanders be compelling and also hilarious, and we can’t wait to see her let loose. She’s been perfect as more conservative and caring figures in films like GIRLS TRIP and the excellent SUPPORT THE GIRLS, but here she can run in a very different direction.
Finally, all of that work Hall does is going to be the base for Marsai Martin’s performance — imagine getting to play Hall’s character, but with the added uncertainty of being trapped in a 13-year-old body. There’s so much potential in her role that we’re going to be first in line for this new take on a classic formula when the film comes to theatres.
AMC gets LITTLE on April 12.