The Wayans brothers clearly possess talent, but you wouldn"t know it from their latest effort, Little Man. If, and only if, viewers suspend disbelief to the point of an amnesiac will they derive most of the intended laughs.
Fresh out of the slammer, Calvin "Babyface" Sims (Marlon Wayans)--or, to us, "Little Man"--robs a jewelry store along with his partner in crime Percy P (Tracy Morgan). After the heist is somewhat botched, Calvin drops the jewel in the purse of an unsuspecting young woman, Vanessa (Kerry Washington), in an attempt to elude cops. Calvin then follows Vanessa and her husband Darryl (Shawn Wayans) out to their suburban home, where it"s calm and where the thief learns Darryl is desperate to father a child. So three-foot-tall Calvin shows up on Darryl"s doorstep in a dog basket goo-goo-ga-ga-ing, much to the couple"s delight. They take him in and turn a blind eye on the fact that he has facial stubble and a mouthful of pearly whites, as Cal tries repeatedly to retrieve the diamond. Amid countless muck-ups and pratfalls, the trio grows closer, with even Cal showing his heartfelt side. But he is still a criminal with a motive, a motive which Vanessa"s elderly father (John Witherspoon) thinks he"s got figured out.
Shawn and Marlon Wayans are easily two of the top five actors in the Wayans clan, which is a feat if you know their genealogy, but at this point it"d be nice to split the brothers up. Their roles here weren"t easily executable--especially Marlon"s--but it"s as if they implore us to not see them as artists. Marlon, whose head is superimposed atop a little person"s body--a not-so-special effect--boasts some funny lines as a hardened thief but makes for a grating "toddler," even though most will inexplicably find his proportions to be hilarious. Meanwhile, Shawn actually steals more of the physical gags, like getting hit in the groin, oh, maybe a dozen times by various objects. And it"s a sad day in Hollywood when people like Ray"s Kerry Washington bolt the good stuff for a Wayans vehicle, but, hey, at least she looks great! The true comedy here, sparse as it may be, comes from numerous cameos by In Living Color alumni and three SNL-ers (Rob Schneider, Molly Shannon and Tracy Morgan).
Marlon, Shawn and Keenen Ivory Wayans are an absolute testament to the Hollywood Machine in action. They "get" Hollywood more than perhaps even George Lucas does, making them studio execs" best friends. They are also more in touch with their fanbase than anyone and churn out precisely what their loyalists crave. In short, they are utterly fascinating. Their movies? Not so much. Director Keenen often seems to mistake irreverent for crude, and co-writers Marlon and Shawn--well, clearly they didn"t envision a brainbuster but they produced (at least) one: We"re merely supposed to laugh at the fact that Vanessa and Darryl don"t notice Calvin"s perpetually changing ages, spewing unintelligible babytalk in one scene and playing football in the next. Otherwise, it"s more or less a series of Keenen alternating locales to exploit pratfalls that would arise if the man-child problem existed.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1 star.