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Non-Review Review: Little

Little overcomes some big problems.

There are a number of very obvious flaws with Little. On a very superficial level, the film suffers from the problem that affects a lot of comedies. Little is simply not as funny as it thinks that it is. The jokes are not bad, and don’t fall flat, but also don’t land as efficiently as they might. Even beyond that, Little suffers from some very serious structural issues. The film has a short attention span, often allowing its focus to wander without a clear sense of purpose or motivation. More than that, Little often struggles to decide which of its two primary plots (and leads) to focus upon.

A Little goes a long way.

These are serious issues, and they prevent Little from working as well as it might otherwise. However, the film works much better than these issues would suggest. There is something surprisingly endearing about Little, a genial quality that prevents the film from ever crashing too hard. It isn’t just the relatively simple (bordering on simplistic) central thesis about childhood and playfulness, it is also the empathy that the film feels for most of its cast, especially those introduced as comedic fodder. Little is a very pleasant film, particularly by the standards of studio comedy.

However, the film’s ace in the hole is its fifteen-year-old star Marsai Martin, perhaps best known for her work on Blackish. Martin produced Little as a vehicle for her talent, and it is an effective showcase. Martin carries a surprising amount of the film with a surprisingly nuanced performance for what is a deliberately broad comedy. Martin is not only game for the film’s jokes, but also capable of handling the broad emotional range (and swift emotional transitions) that the script demands of her. Little might just be Martin’s big break.

Somebody’s assistant could use a pay bump.

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