Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Little Man," dir. Keenan Ivory Wayans (Oklahoma Gazette)

Diaper Rash

I’m a decent enough guy. I love my wife and child. I pay my taxes. I vote in school bond elections. In short, I’m at a loss as to why the entertainment editor of this weekly you hold in your hands forced me to watch and review “Little Man.”

With “Scary Movie” and “White Chicks,” the Wayans brothers -- Keenan Ivory, Shawn and Marlon -- had come close to surpassing Rob Schneider in the crappy comedy genre. But the Wayans’ “Little Man” might push the brothers ahead in that dubious competition. Hell, Schneider even makes a cameo in the movie -- perhaps a sign of surrender.

The nominal plot involves Calvin (Marlon Wayans), a tough but pint-sized thief who teams up with his moronic partner (Tracy Morgan) to steal a huge diamond for a mob boss (Chazz Palminteri). In a close call following the heist, Calvin is forced to ditch the jewel in the purse of an unsuspecting bystander. The purse belongs to a career-minded woman named Vanessa (Kerry Washington), whose husband, Darryl (Shawn Wayans), is desperate for the couple to have a baby.

Needing to get into the couple’s home and retrieve the diamond, Calvin poses as a baby left on their doorstep. Vanessa and Darryl are not puzzled that the toddler has the mug of a fortysomething man, much less that he sports a tattoo on his forearm. A doctor who examines the mystery child is equally oblivious. This is the sort of movie in which stupid characters must continually do stupid things, thereby setting the stage for more stupid happenings.

In the universe of “Little Man,” not a single character appears to realize that little adults actually exist. Nothing seems to shake the young couple’s assurance that Calvin is anything but a baby, even after he steals Darryl’s car and is chased by police.

Why should the characters be suspicious? The filmmakers must not be familiar with dwarves, either. They evidently believed Calvin had to be a CGI creation, as Marlon Wayans’ head is digitally grafted on to a little person’s body (Linden Porco and Gabriel Pimental providing the aforementioned physique).

The special effect is presumably because no actual actor of small stature was suitable for the complexities of a role that calls for rubbing a chocolate chip cookie all over his crotch, swallowing dog urine and enduring the humiliation of an anal thermometer. From soiled diapers to buxom hotties offering to breastfeed, there is no joke too obvious or odious for “Little Man.”

Some talented people turn up here -- Palminteri, Alex Borstein, “In Living Color” alums David Alan Grier and Kelly Coffield -- and all, without exception, are wasted. Molly Shannon appears for a particularly torturously unfunny cameo. What gives? Do all these folks have huge gambling debts or something?

If you are determined to see a grown man dressed like a baby, you would probably be better served surfing the Internet. It’s certainly cheaper, and probably funnier, too.


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