This movie is taking a couple of big risks. Its two leads are really only tested in television (Issa Rae from Insecure and Marsai Martin from Black-ish), so I’m not sure if this movie has the starpower that might draw in big crowds, like for a typical Tiffany Haddish movie. Let’s see if it ended up working out!
Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall) is a massively successful businesswoman, running a company that creates and sells phone applications. Her assistant April (Issa Rae) is at her constant beck and call but is absolutely terrified of her. When Sanders is rude to her workers, a young girl puts a spell on her (just go with it) and when Sanders wakes up, she’s 13 again (played by Marsai Martin). This means, she has to return to school and falls for her teacher (Justin Hartley, This is Us). This is horrible timing, as tech mogul Connor (Mikey Day, Saturday Night Live) needs a new app idea immediately or the entire company may fall apart.
Both Issa Rae and Regina Hall do a fantastic job here. It’s a shame that Regina Hall is in only a few scenes because she’s an absolute delight here, leaning into the ridiculous side of her comedy that we haven’t seen in awhile. And Issa Rae is surprisingly funny as well, so these two work really well off each other and the first act of the movie is probably the strongest act because of their chemistry.
In general, there’s some great humor here, from both of them but also some of our more supporting roles, including a brief but hilarious performance from Justin Hartley, who struggles with being the object of affection for the 13-year-old Jordan.
What doesn’t work?
While half of the comedy hits, the other half falls flat. Once Jordan is de-aged, there’s a whole plot revolving around her experience in school and making friends with the relative outcasts at school. This plot feels like it should be from a PG-rated Disney movie and doesn’t really satirize the high school experience but instead tries to give us a sappy and heartfelt story here, that clashes with the tone set in the first third. Not to mention, the three kids that befriend young Jordan are all painful to watch, especially one of the actors who is trying to portray a child with a stutter but didn’t come off as authentic at all.
Marsai Martin herself isn’t stellar here either, though I’m not sure if it’s her or if the corny script that was provided for her. It comes off as stilted and overly rehearsed.
So when an entire plotline flops and the comedy hits about half the time, that’s concerning. It feels inconsistent, like two different movies mashed together into a bit of a mess.
This isn’t the hit that you’d probably like it to be. It starts off great but takes a sharp curve that derails the movie quite a bit. I think they were intending to make an adult comedy, with an adult de-aged into middle school, but it feels too much like an actual movie for kids, including way too many kids flossing (the dance, not their teeth). The bits with Issa are great, so it’s a very mixed bag. I wouldn’t pay full-price, wait for a bargain theater or when it’s streaming somewhere.