The problem is that, while the brothers have never lost their grip on their ability to shock, their comedy has become progressively lazier with each passing film. Movies like Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood and Scary Movie may have been crude, but the parody was razor sharp and often very funny.
Their recent movies, by contrast, are a bunch of one trick ponies, all shock value and no substance. What’s interesting is how little White Chicks, in which Shawn and Marlon dressed up as a pair of lily-white heiresses, differs from Little Man. Sure the premise is nominally different, but the mechanics are identical: people pretending to be what they’re not, toilet humour and people getting hit in the head and/or groin.
But even White Chicks didn’t have the nasty hard edge we see in Little Man. The film’s production notes go on about love and family, but there’s a cynical, almost misanthropic tone to the comedy that cuts through the syrup. The white characters in the film are particularly offensive. To call them stereotypes would imply that they resemble aspects of real people, and not straw men set up for the convenience of the screenwriters.
Not that the Wayans brothers are racist per se. If anything they are equal opportunity bigots. Black, white, old, young, rich, poor – they are all below the film’s contempt. And perhaps that’s the problem. The film feigns sincerity and compassion but it is really an exercise in cold-hearted commercialism.
The one, and only, area in which the film excels is special effects. Instead of shrinking Marlon, they chose to have a toddler act as his body and then, using green screen technology, painstakingly overlaid his talking head into every scene. The fact that you quickly stop noticing the effects is a testament to just how well they are executed.
Watching Little Man, you have to wonder where the free spirited fun that drove the Wayans’ earlier work is hiding. They built their reputations, and their fortunes, on going where few others would dare. But Little Man shows that there are some places even the Wayans brothers shouldn’t go.
- Alistair Fairweather
Little Man is the Wayans brothers' crudest, meanest and least funny film to date. It just goes to show - poop will eat itself.
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