Sunday, January 19, 2014

Review: Silly "LiTTLE MAN" Offers Big Laughs (Happy B'day, Shawn Wayans)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 149 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Little Man (2006)
Running time:  90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for crude and sexual humor throughout, language and brief drug references
DIRECTOR:  Keenen Ivory Wayans
WRITERS:  Keenen Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans, and Shawn Wayans
PRODUCERS:  Rick Alvarez, Lee R. Mayes, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans, and Shawn Wayans
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Steven Bernstein
EDITORS:  Michael Jackson and Nick Moore
COMPOSER:  Teddy Castellucci


Starring:  Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Kerry Washington, Tracy Morgan, John Witherspoon, Lochlyn Munro, Fred Stoller, Damien Dante Wayans, Gary Owen, Chazz Palminteri, Alex Borstein, Brittany Daniel, John DeSantis, Dave Sheridan, Molly Shannon, and David Alan Grier with Rob Schneider (no screen credit)

The subject of this movie review is Little Man (also stylized as LiTTLE MAN), a 2006 crime comedy from director, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and starring his brothers, Marlon and Shawn Wayans.  The film focuses on a wannabe dad who mistakenly believes that a short-of-stature criminal is his newly adopted son.

As soon as diminutive criminal, Calvin (Marlon Wayans provides the face; Linden Porco and Gabriel Pimental provide the body), leaves prison, he joins his dim and hapless homeboy, Percy (Tracy Morgan, priceless as the criminally inept doofus), in the theft of a large diamond.  With the police hot on their trail, Calvin passes the diamond off to a suburban couple, Darryl (Shawn Wayans) and Vanessa (Kerry Washington).

Calvin and Percy follow the couple back to their home where they learn that the couple is struggling with whether or not they should have a child.  Percy convinces the short-statured Calvin to disguise himself as a baby, and Percy leaves Calvin on Darryl and Vanessa’s doorstep.  After discovering the “baby” Calvin on their doorstep, the couple takes him in, deciding to keep the toddler for at least the weekend until they can turn him over to child welfare authorities on Monday.  Now a part of the family, baby Calvin makes his move to retrieve the diamond he hid in Vanessa’s bag, but Pops (John Witherspoon, in a scene stealing role), Vanessa’s father who lives with them, doesn’t trust this new foundling and keeps his eyes on him.  Meanwhile, Walken (Chazz Palminteri), the cheap hood for whom Calvin and Percy stole the diamond, is moving in to retrieve his booty and he just may kill anyone in his way.

A midget or diminutive criminal passing himself off as a baby to be taken in by a naïve civilian who then unwittingly hides bogus baby from the law is a staple of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon shorts – 1954 Baby Buggy Bunny comes to mind.  The family team of director/co-writer Keenen Ivory Wayans and co-writers/stars Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans make the concept their own in the new comedy, Little Man.  Coming from the people who gave us the Fox sketch comedy series, “In Living Color,” and the reviled, but popular 2004 film, White Chicks ($113 million in worldwide box office, $42.2 of that earned internationally), we would expect Little Man to be in bad taste, and boy, is it in bad taste.

It’s grosser than most gross-out comedies.  In terms of sexual innuendo, bawdy humor, and sexual humor, it actually crosses the line.  There are moments that either outright offended me or stunned and shocked me into silence – killing my laughter as if someone hit an off switch.  This concept is ridiculous except in Bugs Bunny cartoons.  The execution of the narrative is illogical, implausible, improbable, and filled with impossibilities.

The CGI and visual effects that mold Marlon Wayans body with that of two dwarf  actors to create Calvin is some amazing movie technology, but it doesn’t totally work.  Marlon’s head often movies awkwardly, and sometimes his head still looks way too big for such a small body.  Sometimes the seams between the computer-created Calvin and reality are painfully obvious, and Calvin just looks as if he’s been pasted in.  On the other hand, about half the time, the “little man” in Little Man actually looks quite good.

But after all is said and done, Little Man is just frickin’ funny.  It’s laugh-out-loud funny, howl with laughter in the theatre funny, choke-on-laughter funny, funny funny, etc.  Those who like the Wayans’ unabashedly low brow humor, chocked full of bad taste and taboo busting will find this a hilarious treat.  Little Man isn’t the classic great film, but it’s the classic make-you-laugh comedy.  What Little Man lacks in serious artistic merit, it makes up for in laughter inducing nonsense.  That’s the low art of high comedy.

6 of 10

Saturday, July 15, 2006

2007 Razzie Awards:  3 wins: “Worst Actor” (Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans), “Worst Screen Couple” (Shawn Wayans, Kerry Washington, Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans and either Kerry Washington or Marlon Wayans), and “Worst Remake or Rip-Off” (Rip-Off of the 1954 Bugs Bunny cartoon Baby Buggy Bunny-1954); 4 nominations: “Worst Picture,” “Worst Actor” (Rob Schneider for The Benchwarmers), “Worst Director” (Keenen Ivory Wayans), and “Worst Screenplay” Keenen Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans)

Updated:  Sunday, January 19, 2014

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