Little is weird, gross, cynical, and uncomfortable.
Whatever you want to say about one of the very worst decades in film history from an artform standpoint, the ’80s, it was filled with films that practically gave birth to genuine albeit over the top heart and sentimentality. Almost every classic film from that period felt like a warm hug and compliment from your grandmother after she just stuffed a fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie down your throat. And therein lies the problem with remakes of classic ’80s films, like Little: when you get down to it, the recipe for success will never produce the same result if you don’t use the same key ingredient: Heart.
Little is a remake or retooling or a reimagining or whatever word you want to use to placate a poor remake for the sake of making a few bucks of the classic Tom Hanks comedy Big. This time around, with a script for the film’s director, Tina Gordon Chism, and writer Tracy Oliver, the grown adult (Support the Girl’s Regina Hall) is shrunk her down to a child (played with her usual verve by Black-ish actress Marsai Martin). There is also the over-cliched under-appreciated assistant (The Hate U Give’s Issa Rae), who displays an inordinate lack of common sense by believing her boss is trapped in a child’s body or has reverted back to her child form — I’m not sure honestly. Why she goes along with the idea her boss is now too small to ride a roller coaster and not call a licensed social worker is beyond comprehension.
Of course, this is a comedy fantasy, and all would be forgiven if the film was funny. It’s not, it’s crass, it’s weird, and having a child actor hit on adult male characters is just gross and uncomfortable. What made Big work was putting on an adult male body could act like a “beard” and get through everyday work life and let the fun ensue. Going the other way takes away the childlike innocence that makes a film like this work; adding cynicism to a child’s point of view has its limitations.
The film tries too hard with gross-out humor or gags that simply don’t work cohesively within the film’s story. You need the binding agent in a film like this or the age of the joke becomes accelerated and even the more novice film fans will grow tired of it. For me, Little was tedious from the get-up. There is no heart here, no emotional connection, no one character to care about. You then combine that with off-putting jokes that don’t bring the funny, you should have very little patience as a consumer or a fan of movies in general for your hard earned money.
M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.