Brought to you from the comedic gene pool that produced White Chicks and the Scary Movie franchise, Little Man once again has the Wayans brothers fishing around in the toilet bowl looking for a few jokes.
The Shawn-Marlon-Keenen Ivory brand of boobies and stanky bowel gags and lowest-common-denominator humor is well documented at this point. Only rarely in their movies do you get a taste of the cutting-edge comedy that eldest brother Keenen Ivory Wayans crafted on In Living Color. If these guys are pushing the envelope, it's only going as far as the gutter.
In Little Man, which Shawn and Marlon wrote and star in and Keenen directs, the brothers rip off a classic Bugs Bunny plot: an ill-tempered little person pretends to be a baby to get away after a robbery. This time, it's a jewelry heist, and the little person, Calvin, puts himself on the doorstep of an unsuspecting couple, angling to retrieve the jewel he stashed in the woman's handbag.
Marlon plays Calvin; his head is superimposed on a dwarf's body, and not with great finesse. Baby Calvin has to be the homeliest little thing you've ever laid eyes on. He's such an ugly kid his face would curdle breast milk. The fact that he's not a convincing infant is part of the gag, just like the brothers' hack makeup job in White Chicks.
Babies make great fodder for bodily function humor, what with diapers and breasts readily accessible. The brothers miss no opportunities for little Calvin to ogle, fondle and rub his face in every set of ta-tas that pass him by.
Throw in a half dozen kicks in the crotch, and you pretty much have Little Man.
There are a few bits where one could, against one's better judgment, call the writing clever, namely when the Wayans take on racist cops, overly competitive dads and soccer moms' driving habits. Plus SNL vet Tracy Morgan is funny no matter how puerile the material is he plays Percy, Calvin's dim sidekick with aspirations to break into hip hop. At the end of the day, Little Man can't shake the idiotic image of a mini-Marlon in a baby carrier. This is the kind of movie that has people asking, "How bad was it?" and not, "Was it any good?" It's a glass half-full or half-empty kind of thing. In this case, the glass is mostly empty, and you really don't want to get a whiff of what's left in it.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].