Little Man / Phillip Stephens
Film Reviews | July 17, 2006 | Comments ()
Fresh from their so-bad-and-so-stupid-that-it’s-occasionally-funny turn with White Chicks, the brothers Wayans have soldiered on and delivered unto us another watered-down, half-assed comedy that aims to replicate its accidental success among tweeny theatergoers or stoners with rental ennui.
The plot of Little Man has been done before in vaudeville, the “Baby Buggy Bunny” episode of “Looney Tunes,” and more recently with the Baby Herman character from Who Framed Roger Rabbit: A pint-sized goon passes for an infant; stupid antics ensue, followed by laughter. This time the goon is played (from the head up) by Marlon Wayans, as a two-foot ex-con who, upon being released from jail, steals a diamond and …
… You know what? Fuck plot synopsis. It’s a midget pretending to be a baby — other than that, nobody cares (and I include the filmmakers in this category). Computer effects render (poorly) Marlon’s head onto, alternatively, the body of actual dwarf Gabriel Pimental and 9-year-old Linden Porco as he molests women and delivers innumerable assaults to men’s crotches. It’s a stupid, crass idea and it’s done poorly.
What really deserves aspersion here isn’t that Little Man is idiotic, or even that it’s vulgar to ridiculous degrees; the fact is, this film reeks of laziness and greed. In stumbling onto the incidental success of White Chicks, director Keenan Ivory Wayans, along with brothers Shawn and Marlon, thought they had the makings of a cash-cow of greater significance than previous yuks like the first Scary Movie films, which were so over-the-top repellant or absurd that many laughed, though they were ashamed to admit it. With Little Man, as with its predecessor, the repulsion has been toned down to earn a PG-13 in the hope that more youths will get into the theater.
The result is merely a nasty film that doesn’t manage to elicit a response, even if that response has to be shock or nausea. What few gross-outs remain, in addition to being subdued, are simply thrown in slapdash with little or no context: A dog saunters up and pisses in Marlon’s face for no reason; later, we’re treated to the sounds of his stentorious diarrhea. And with lowbrow kings like the Wayans brothers, that’s pretty disappointing. Also gone are the Wayans’ trademark references to other films and snarky cultural commentary. The best we get in this vein are a couple of half-assed potshots at racist cops and multitasking soccer moms.
It’s a sad day in the theater when I pine for the days when a director preferred to make a bad movie with geysers of ejaculate than a bad movie showcasing a montage of crotch-beatings and bathtub farts, but I’ll take shock over boredom any day.
Phillip Stephens is a movie critic for Pajiba.