By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
The film “Little” is such a pleasant take on an adult being turned into a child to hopefully teach the adult to stop to smell the roses and take a step back to learn to treat folks more civilly. Regina Hall stars as Jordan Sanders; Issa Rae stars as April, Jordan’s assistant; and 14-year-old “Black-ish” star Marsai Martin stars as the younger Jordan who shows the older Jordan a thing or two.
It all starts out because Jordan owns a technology firm that is successful and she works hard—by any means necessary—to keep it that way. She’s mean—real mean.
As a teenager, Jordan suffered an accident, and she had been bullied in school for a while. Her parents assure her that she’s not an awkward teen and that she is the boss of her life. She took this advice to heart and used it as a backboard to be stern with her employees—so much so that most of them despise her.
One day she is so mean that a young food truck vendor who performs magic wishes that Jordan were a little kid. The next day, the magic begins, and Jordan is a kid but doesn’t quite know it until she attempts to leave her luxury apartment and drive away in her luxury sports car. She has been transformed into the body of Martin, wearing oversized clothes.
April and the adult Jordan (via phone contact) have to devise a plan that forces the young Jordan to enroll in middle school while April runs the company. April had previously been at her wit’s end in dealing with her boss, but this new assignment gives her the opportunity to live the life of the older Jordan, with all its perks. She also has an opportunity for her design ideas to finally be considered for development by the tech firm.
What unfolds throughout the film is a lesson about humility and kindness, along with brazen acts of bullying among the middle school students that seem to echo reports of what often happens in schools through the nation. April has her hands full with keeping little Jordan in a little girl’s place. On the other hand, the adult Jordan has a time relinquishing authority to April. One of the better outcomes is that little Jordan is able to help her middle school students through the eyes of someone who has been there already.
This film reminds me of “Big,” another body-switch film, where Tom Hanks plays a little boy who wishes to be big, but this film’s main characters are Black. Also, Martin has the distinction of being the youngest person to ever serve as an executive producer on a film.
All in all, “Little” is a good film. I admire Hall, but she wasn’t in the film much—only long enough for her obstinate character to be developed and then at the end so she can be transitioned back into her grown up self. Martin and Rae’s performances are on point; a particularly hilarious scene is in an upscale restaurant when the two sing a Mary J. Blige song. Luke James stars as Trevor; JD McCrary as Isaac; Tone Bell as Preston; and Justin Hartley as the “hot teacher,” among other stars.
“Little” is playing everywhere throughout the city and suburbs. I took a road trip to Skokie to see it at CMX CineBistro, which is managed by CMX Cinemas, the eighth largest movie theater chain in the United States. This chain recently ushered in a new luxury theater-going experience with two theaters that feature luxurious amenities and cutting-edge technology.
Located in the Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center, the CMX Old Orchard Market is for all ages and guests. On the other hand, as parrots the theme in the film, the adult version—CMX CineBistro—is for guests 21 and over. “The CineBistro location is a fresh take on the luxury dine-in theater experience, with a wholly updated menu and the newest audio-visual technology. These new locations are just the beginning–we’re expanding our footprint in the Chicago area and on a national scale. This dual opening will redefine the movie-going experience in Skokie, offering guests two different high-end experiences in one mall,” said Frank Stryewski, COO of CMX Cinemas, at last year’s opening. “These new openings are part of the ambitious expansion plan that CMX Cinemas has for all of the United States—starting in Illinois, where there will be two other new openings in the near future.”
Admission for guests at CMX CineBistro is slightly more than at some of the less modern theaters, but the food options rival that of many upscale restaurants. The CMX Market admission prices just about match other local theaters, with food fare that is more in line with other venues—but decidedly with an upgraded flair. Both theaters offer matinee weekday and weekend prices, and students and military guests receive admission special pricing. Look for “Little” at your favorite theater.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusadernewspaper. She is also the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago.” For book info, [email protected].