Before it was released, the buzz surrounding the Wayans Brothers' new film, Little Man
, placed it somewhere between the worst film of all time and killing a baby on the scale of atrocities. Internet message boards were aflutter with accusations of plagiarism, racism and height-ism. Upon seeing the film, CRACKED can confirm that the plot is gleaned from a Little Rascals
short, by way of Bugs Bunny. The brothers Wayans once again rely primarily on odd character disguises and, overall, the movie is pretty fucking stupid.
However, we can also confidently report that-GASP-Little Man
is also pretty funny.
Marlon Wayans plays Calvin, a diminutive criminal who steals a diamond with his partner Percy (Tracy Morgan) to pay off a debt to Walken (Chazz Palminteri). The heist predictably goes awry and Calvin hides the diamond in an unsuspecting woman' handbag. In order to get it back, Calvin must pretend to be an abandoned infant so he can gain entry into the woman' house. Because Child Services was closed that weekend,
Vanessa (Kerry Washington) and her boyfriend Darryl (Shawn Wayans) decide to hang on to the supposed baby. What follows is a heavy flow of crotch-related slapstick gags and a few hundred instances of characters acting surprised that the baby is doing something babies don't or can't do.
The idea that Little Man
borrows from cartoons isn't unfounded-along with the plot, some of the action seems, at times, quite cartoonish. During one scene in which a henchman is trying to put Calvin to bed, Calvin smacks him with a bat whenever the lights are turned off. The quick action of the shadows recalls the depth of color that classic cartoons utilize so well. But it doesn't feel like plagiarism-it feels like dutiful homage.
The performances are animated as well. Each role is played with such exaggerated emotion that it is impossible to lose site of the targets the actors parody. Shawn Wayans never stops his high-pitched, excited manner of talking to baby Calvin, and his intensity and facial animation are amusing throughout the film. Marlon' facial expressions are so often comically grotesque that they can cause both laughter and horror. Tracy Morgan is wonderful as the dimwitted partner in crime, and John Witherspoon plays a curmudgeonly old man as well as he ever did in the Friday
movies. Scary Movie
alum Lochlyn Munro and Dr. Katz
guest Fred Stoller play Darryl' friends, and their takes on fatherhood contribute to the film' few highbrow moments.
Somewhere beneath the juvenile humor is a comedy about raising children and the pitfalls and pleasures involved. This blending of ideas creates something we haven't seen in a comedy for a while: a kid-friendly film that isn't too painful for parents to watch as well. If you're a parent who doesn't mind explaining a few stray sex jokes, then go ahead and take your children to see Little Man
. Who knows, seeing a movie in which babies have grown up genitalia might make it easier to explain a few things to them down the line. As anyone who was exposed to Eddie Murphy before adolescence can tell you, a good dick joke beats getting "The Talk" from your Dad any day of the week.