Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Little Man

Little Man
Starring:
Tracy Morgan, Kerry Washington, Shawn Wayans, John Witherspoon and Lochlyn Munro


Rated: PG-13 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: July 14, 2006 Released by: Columbia TriStar

The Wayans family follows their cross-racial drag farce White Chicks with the increasingly preposterous Little Man. Director Keenen Ivory Wayans transforms sibling Marlon into a dimunitive criminal, Calvin, who poses as a baby to retrieve a stolen diamond. One can laugh at the churlish escapades on view posing as plot, but the exaggeration outlasts the execution, yielding a very unpolished product that barely makes it to the finish line.

While nearly a half-hour shorter than Chicks, the madcap gag reel is protracted in an attempt to touch a wide demographic. One character notes that the infant who has a hacking cough may have been a rush job by God. Still he is so cute and barely out of jail as the beautiful "Queen" of a jewel seems an ideal fit for someone he ends up getting to know pretty well.

The heist with partner/aspiring rapper Percy P., played with trepidation by Tracy Morgan, doesn't go quite as planned, though the cops are easily left adrift. The script, predicatably concocted by the director and his mean-spirited bonnet-wearing star, has the adorable Calvin out to pilfer the misplaced booty. But, it's difficult for the adult-faced toddler left in a basket who becomes the baby of Vanessa Edwards (Kerry Washington) and unhappy husband Darryl (Shawn Wayans).

The foolishness that one attempts to enjoy in its scattershot silliness is rampant from nearly all adult behavior working from the two-dimensional composite effect of rendering a baby using a stunt double. Washington is required to emote for the effect of pleasing Darryl who was hoping Vanessa was pregnant while she glows because of a promotion.

Many may not find the visual effect with Calvin that distracting after a while, but some of the physical mayhem and the lack of timing by the director makes some of the scenes hard to digest, logic aside. Scenes move along in a pallid way that denotes what really is a hasty production. But the initial unseemly behavior as the adults interact with Calvin can have a charming lowbrow effect on an undiscerning audience.

Calvin often has his way with Vanessa's rat-sniffing father (John Witherspoon), especially in a breakfast scene. The humor is engulfed in the sight of breasts and groin injuries, especially during a friendly game of touch football. One rough father chum of Darryl (Lochlyn Munro) gets his comeuppance from his own kid whose smile may be the most truthful moment in Little Man.

The story ends up realizing the importance of the diamond, but not before unremarkable cameos by Rob Schneider and Molly Shannon, and a gulf of castor oil. The sentiment begins to sate the screen as Darryl will come to his senses after heeding the warning of his father-in-law about the teddy bear. The Wayans' get plenty of puerile mileage out of the goo-goo-gah-gah routine, but it's clear that Calvin would have been an ideal stand-in for the impish elfin accomplish in Bad Santa. It's just a lowdown dirty shame how a family who once had a touch in an outrageous fresh way is content to flail away with lust, anger, and joy for the scatological.

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