|By Chris Derosa||Tuesday, 20 Feb 2007|
One could say that Comedy is dead.
Practically everything that has recently been released in theaters has degenerated into a shock and gross out fest that not only seeks to offend the audience, but make them lose their lunch while doing so. Just follow the formula and you have a guaranteed hit. Put some comedic actors in costumes and outrageously zany situations, usually involving sexual organs, then throw in random celebrity cameos that wouldn’t even be allowed on The Surreal Life (no offense, Webster), write a screenplay and edit a film that barely scratches the 90 minute mark, and toss it in the reel. Little Man certainly does not help turn the tide away from these trends.
On paper, the plot sounds decent. After all, it is a Wayans brothers creation, and even though the abominable White Chicks was as terrible as it was terrifying, they couldn’t possibly screw up again. Yet they somehow find a way to do so, and do they ever.
Little man involves the tale of a vertically challenged ex-con (Marlon Wayans) who decides to celebrate his release with a jewelry heist of a famous diamond, alongside his bumbling partner in crime (Tracy Morgan). Things don’t go exactly according to plan, and while avoiding the authorities they have no choice but to ditch the diamond into a nearby purse owned by a newlywed couple (Shawn Wayans and Kerry Washington). With much thought applied to retrieving back the diamond, the pair of thieves decide that the best plan is to infiltrate the house with the smallest of the two disguised as an infant child, left and abandoned at the couple’s front door. Hilarity ensues.
Now that the base plot is laid down, it becomes a matter of playing out joke after joke, with setup after setup preceding each one. With each scene that follows, you’ll find that the plot soon disappears. And questions from whoever happens to be watching soon follow. At least I myself had a lot of questions to ask. Continuity takes a backseat here, as each scene in the movie that fills in the body could actually change places with any other scene in the middle. It would never make a difference either way. Once you reach the end, you’ll be baffled on how you made it there. Not that it really matters, as long as the jokes and gags are still great. Unfortunately there’s nothing to be found in that department, either.
As I somewhat stated before, toilet humor in general reigns supreme when it comes to comedy these days. This movie happens to follow the devices almost by the book. Excrement and flatulence jokes? Of course this has them. Penile and breast gags? A couple. Crotch shots? More than enough, and I almost shed a tear when I found myself not laughing at many of them. I honestly never thought I’d see the day when that would happen. In fact, the general slapstick and almost cartoon-like execution of Little Man makes me wonder what the target audience for this movie really was. With the rude, lude, and sometimes stereotypical nature, it certainly isn’t one that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Going into slightly more detail, some of the jokes feel absolutely wrong to even chuckle at for fear of getting a scolding shortly after doing so. As the audience knows, the baby in the movie is portrayed by a minuscule adult. However, the other characters in the movie don’t realize this. And yet, without spoiling much, there happens to be scenes of violence and sex involving the baby. Maybe it’s funny to someone out there, but to me it was just painful to stomach and it all seems like evidence for a future court trial.
A big disappointment in this movie was certainly the acting cast. I used to be a huge fan of the Wayans brothers, since In Living Color was first aired. Something must have happened since their roles in the brilliant Scary Movies, because they seem to have lost all abilities that have made them so unique. It’s a mess all around, with Shawn Wayans not being able to pull off a mild mannered but occasionally upset family man, but the laziest actor in this movie is easily his brother Marlon. The little man is pretty much acted out by a 10 year old boy, while Marlon’s head is plastered on afterwards for maximum effect. It’s really weird to witness at first, but then it all soon becomes so natural and unnoticeable that it’s scary. I must say that the special effects department did well in that aspect. It’s a shame then that Marlon has a very small capacity of talent when using just his face.
There’s no real stand out role in this movie, and even the amazing Tracy Morgan is reduced to play a wannabe rap star with a dangerously low IQ. John Witherspoon also happens to be in this. If you don’t remember him, he was the dad in the Friday movies. He was also the dad in The Wayans Brothers TV show. And I think he was in Barbershop? Anyways, while I usually enjoy his roles, he doesn’t come off too well as the family grandfather that is assumed to be feeble and insane the whole movie as he interacts with the little man like a great arch rival out to make him a fool. And as the brothers and others are trying to work through this jumbled atrocity, there’s sometimes the occasional cameo. Some of these fit rather well (mostly from fellow In Living Color alumni), while some are incredibly questionable (a couple of Saturday Night Live alumni, actually). It’s all for trying to score cheap laughs, and I hate even admitting that it worked every now and then.
To label Little Man as a travesty would be a complete understatement. It recently earned some Razzie nominations, and rightfully so. However I must admit that at some points when I allowed my mind to shut down I would find myself laughing, but those times were few are far in between the times when I wished it would just end. It’s just a movie that should be avoided by all means. But all of the negativity in the world wouldn’t be able stop the general public from seeing it. And how come? Well I guess people have nothing better to do, and they love disasters. I know I do. That’s why I watched this in the first place. But even as a disaster, Little Man still fails. So please, don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. Heed my words and just stay far, far away.
In the end, Little Man gets a well deserved from me.