Little Man

2007-02-09 18:10

At 2 ½ feet tall Calvin Sims (Marlon Wayans) may look like a child, but he’s really a hardened criminal, just released from prison. Teaming up with his partner Percy P (Tracy Morgan), Calvin pulls off a bold heist, snatching the enormous Queen Diamond from a jewellery store. But their getaway goes bad and Calvin must offload the loot in passerby Vanessa’s (Kerry Washington) purse. The hapless crooks follow Vanessa and her husband Darryl (Shawn Wayans) home, planning to rob them. But when Calvin overhears that Darryl is desperate to become a dad he hatches a bold plan – he will pose as an abandoned toddler, gain entrance to the house, and steal the diamond back.


You have to hand it to the Wayans brothers. They worked their way out of the slums of New York and into the kind of limelight that only $100-million-earning films can provide. They are, as they put it, “the most successful African-American filmmakers in history”. If only they didn’t have to produce crude, mean spirited trash like Little Man to get where they are.

It wasn’t always so. Back in the early ‘90s they were breaking ground with In Living Color, a daring comedy sketch show that won several awards. Apart from the Wayans themselves, the show’s alumni include Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey and Jennifer Lopez. It was here that the brothers got a taste of the power that comes from slaying society’s sacred cows, and they’ve been making money from it ever since.

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.

*** 2006/10/11 8:20 AM
Little Man I agree this film was really silly - I think they can do a lot better. There was very, very, few laughs in this movie.
Peter 2006/10/11 8:37 AM
Little Man I saw this movie in the US in July. It's one of the most revolting movies I've even seen.I like the Wayans brothers but I struggled the see the humour in this movie. This is a movie that should go straight to the rental market.
niso 2006/10/11 12:21 PM
beutiful work Nothing new from the brothers... very stupid movie. I like
Lindy 2006/10/11 4:06 PM
Beautiful!!!!! The film was really silly and i must agree with *** about few laughs.
dust 2006/10/16 9:10 AM
lame it sucked - bring back don't be menace ;p
Flippie 2006/10/16 3:31 PM
Argh Captain This is the best movie I have ever seen. It is just as good as The Piano
Lee 2006/10/17 12:46 PM
Little Man Yes it made me laugh. It was okay
Itumeleng 2006/10/17 1:33 PM
Same old I was bored to tear...I want my money back.
Kylo 2006/10/18 1:34 PM
Ridiculous Cannot believe all of you wasted money on that movie...the trailer was surely enough warning?!?
Bethlehem 2006/10/18 2:53 PM
Little Man Little Man make me laugh!
Flinky's Mate 2006/10/19 11:14 AM
I agree Possibly the worst movie I've ever seen.
Lethukuthula 2006/10/19 12:08 PM
little man It made me laugh a lot , it was brilliant I think
mzwanele 2006/10/19 6:27 PM
Just funny man!!! stop expecting and watch you will laugh
Garfield 2006/10/23 8:26 AM
Little Man I never laughed like this in one day.
Thato 2006/10/23 8:39 AM
Little Man It's toilet paper humour, i enjoyed it.
Tumi 2006/10/23 8:41 AM
Little Man Alistair is obviously an angry jealous white brotha.......this movie was well done and very funny.......pls dont take it away from this brothas they have done well....its a cool movie...really now!
Mabusi 2006/10/23 8:52 AM
Little Man The Wayans bothers need to relook their brand the movie is crude and predictable.
Thembeka Mtsweni 2006/10/23 8:55 AM
Little Man I am a big movie fan and I thought Little man was a brilliant movie that I have watched recently, I laughed from the beginning to the end, a job well done.
Clement 2006/10/23 8:58 AM
Little Man From their genius Wayne Bros sitcom to this.... it's a downslide. But nevertheless if U r their fan and you know what to expect from Marlon and Shaun then U will enjoy it!
Nomakaya 2006/11/03 9:40 AM
Little man Wayans brothers are the best. I'll give them 9 out of 10. I laughed all the way till the end.
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