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
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.
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