|Little Man (2006)
Starring: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Tracy Morgan, Alex Borstein
Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans
297 million dollars. That’s the domestic box office total for the last three films starring, written, and directed by the family comedy team of Marlon, Shawn and Keenen Ivory Wayans. I know what you’re thinking: who cares, right? Well, somebody obviously does, or these guys would’ve been thrown to the curb a long, long time ago. They also deserve a certain amount of respect for what they’ve accomplished these past five years, including figuring out a way to lower production costs while maximizing their profits, and targeting a dependable niche audience dumb enough to see films like “Scary Movie” and “White Chicks.” The same formula has been applied to “Little Man,” the latest comedy from the brotherly trio which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t the worst film of the year. In fact, it’s not even close to breaking the top five, and while it’s not the crappiest Wayans film ever made, it’s certainly not the best, either.
Loosely based on the famous Warner Bros. cartoon, “Baby Buggy Bunny,” the film stars Marlon Wayans as Calvin, a pint-sized criminal who teams up with his partner Percy (Tracy Morgan) to steal an enormous diamond for a local crime boss (Chazz Palminteri) promising a big payday. The robbery is compromised, however, and in an attempt to hide the rock for safe keeping, Calvin drops it into the purse of an unfortunate bystander (Kerry Washington) out shopping with her husband, Daryl (Shawn Wayans). Moments later, Calvin shows up on their front steps posing as an abandoned infant, and Daryl – eager to start a family of his own – feels compelled to take him in, unaware that he’s actually housing a fortysomething criminal.
Never one to pass up on a gimmick (like in “White Chicks,” where two very black men prance around in drag as two very creepy-looking white girls for 109 minutes), “Little Man” offers up yet another comic device in the apparent shrinking of star Marlon Wayans. Actually, the actor’s face has been digitally affixed to the body of a smaller actor, and while it doesn’t look completely genuine (the story’s already a hard sell), the cartoonish nature of the final product certainly helps in drawing more parallels to the original Bugs Bunny short. The process is also something you eventually get used to, much like the film itself, which, while not particularly funny, is still mildly entertaining to sit through. The gags aren’t nearly as shameful, either, and while the script features its share of toilet humor, a lot of the set pieces resonate back to the days when Bob Saget hosted “America’s Home Videos.” Think cheap shots to the groin, and lots of them.
Okay, so I may be getting a little ahead of myself here. “Little Man” is still a horrible film by most standards, but it’s not a complete failure, and that’s an important distinction to make. Even dreadful cameos by Rob Schneider and Molly Shannon are quickly forgotten about in place of funny supporting turns by David Alan Grier and (cousin) Damien Wayans as a racist black cop who has it out for his fellow brothers. Admittedly, “Little Man” isn’t a very funny movie, but at least I didn’t want to kill myself midway through the flick. No, that particular honor is reserved for “You, Me and Dupree.”
There’s actually quite a bit here to check out, including an audio commentary by the Wayans Brothers, a handful of deleted scenes, and four production featurettes.