Not even White Chicks can prepare you for the badness brought on by Little Man. This "Li'l Bubba's House" is my early Razzie favorite and definitely the worst theatrical release so far this year. Its awfulness stems primarily from its central conceit, so before like a ravenous lion I tear at its vulnerable wildebeest flesh, a brief synopsis is appropriate.
Calvin Sims (Marlon Wayans
) is a little criminal, "little" being the operative word. At just three feet of height and with a silky smooth face, he is known in the underworld as "Baby Face" Sims. On the day of his release from prison, Calvin teams up with his partner Percy P (Tracy Morgan
) to rob a jewelry store of the giant Queen Diamond. The diamond inadvertently ends up in the hands of Vanessa (Kerry Washington
) and Darryl Edwards (Shawn Wayans
) who unknowingly escort it to their home in the Chicago suburbs. Calvin utilizes his "little man" status to bluff his way into the Edwards household, pretending to be a baby to get himself close to the misplaced prize. Of course, hilarity ensues when the Edwardses grow attached to Calvin and start to treat him as they would their own baby boy. Bring on the rectal thermometers! Article continues below
Wait. Hilarity? Wrong word. Typo. Error. The more apt choice would be banality, or even creepiness. Little Man is a project misconceived on every possible level. The most prominent of these levels is also the most central: Calvin, the little man himself. The entire time I watched I could not shake the feeling that something was seriously wrong with the very idea of the movie. It isn't just that there isn't a funny moment in the thing or that every character is less than paper thin, there was something sorely wrong with the concept of attaching an adult's head to a child's body. Here we have a "man child" having sex with his supposed mother, clutching at giant fake breasts and growling every time he sees a firm buttock. It was plainly irksome.
However, if that doesn't seem wrong to you, and the idea of Marlon Wayans' head on a little body is fine, certainly the shoddy execution will offend. The visual effects team have literally transposed footage of Wayans performing each scene onto the body of a child actor performing the same scenes with the cast. The result is seam-full and distracting. Laugh-free moments such as Calvin sticking his tongue down the throat of a hot blonde, played by Brittany Daniel, are made that much worse by the poor quality of the visual effects. It all lends an otherworldliness to Calvin: He is the oddest and most unsettling child, man, thing, to hit cinemas for a long time. I include recent and past Damiens in that calculation.
One could forgive bad effects and cringing characterizations if the movie was at all funny. It isn't. The closest it comes to humor is a running gag about white people viewing black people as criminals. Not exactly fresh and as a running gag runs out of puff the second of about thirty times it is repeated. The entire movie is similarly stale. Director Keenen Ivory Wayans
chooses locations and colors for the film that are noticeably drab. He also demonstrates an amateurish tendency to let some scenes (Calvin pooping his pants for example) outstay their welcome while cutting away from others at the most inappropriate of times. Shawn Wayans as Calvin's newfound father figure is bland, while Kerry Washington as the mother has her smile set to high beam and her performance is garishly overplayed to match.
Little Man is a depressing experience that critics will rightly savage. I have no doubt however that our cries will fall on deaf ears. Orthodontic surgery would be more fun than watching this, but some will still venture, cash in hand, to the weird and wonder-less world of this latest Wayans Brothers mess. Money will be made, minds will be lessened and much to my chagrin, future Wayans green lights will be lit.