Little Man review by Mike Long

When I watch a movie to review, I usually don't have any sort of pre-conceived agenda. Sure, there are plenty of instances where I've heard of the film, and may have read other reviews for it, but I try to have an open mind. That wasn't the case with Little Man, the latest comedy from the Wayans Brothers. I actually had a specific question in mind when I sat down to view this DVD. I wanted to know if the movie could possibly be worse than White Chicks. Well, it wasn't, but that's not saying much.

As Little Man opens, diminutive thief Calvin (Marlon Wayans...sort of) is released from prison and immediately meets his old partner, Percy (Tracy Morgan) to pull off a new heist. They use Calvin’s small size to their advantage to take a very large diamond from a jewelry store. But, the caper goes awry and Calvin and Percy find themselves being pursued by the police. Calvin drops the diamond into the purse of Vanessa (Kerry Washington). He and Percy then follow Vanessa and her husband, Darryl (Shawn Wayans) home. Calvin overhears Darryl and Vanessa talking about having a baby and that gives him an idea -- Calvin disguises himself as a baby in order to get into the house. When Darryl finds Calvin dressed as a child on the front porch, he can’t help but take the “child” into his home. From there, Calvin assumes that it will be easy to snatch the diamond and get away. But, Vanessa and Darryl are delighted to have a baby around and insist on spoiling “baby Calvin”. Is the jewel worth a weekend of life as a baby?

You have to hand it to the Wayans Brothers -- they've never met a concept that they aren't afraid of. White Chicks featured Shawn and Marlon playing FBI agents who went undercover as two pampered white girls. As outlandish as that idea seems, it's nothing compared to the thought of 6-foot-2 Marlon playing a baby. It's clear that they come up with the idea first and then worry about the special effects later.

But an outrageous concept is where the impressive nature of Little Man ends. The movie is better than White Chicks, but that's not saying much. And to be honest, the only reason that I liked this better than White Chicks is due to the presence of Tracy Morgan, whose manic energy always makes me laugh. (If you haven't seen him on 30 Rock, check it out.) The first few minutes of the movie, where Tracy Morgan is abused by the tiny Marlon Wayans character, made me laugh. Once the "baby" concept kicks in and Calvin moves in with Darryl and Vanessa, things go downhill.

Little Man was directed and co-written by Keenen Ivory Wayans, who created the TV show In Living Color. That show was known for its irreverent and often subversive humor. The program didn't pull any punches and pushed the envelope for social, racial, and political humor. Apparently, that Keenen Ivory Wayans is dead and gone. While his recent films may be rude and crude, they are also pedestrian and predictable and do nothing at all to challenge the audience. This lack of backbone is combined with an absence of any real story in Little Man. Once the basic premise is introduced, the movie devolves into a series of one pointless scene after another where Calvin attempts to get the diamond and his cover is nearly blown. These scenes offer tired and forced jokes, often referring to body parts or bodily functions, which simply aren't funny. As if the level of humor in the film wasn't enough to insult the audience, we are asked to believe that competent adults would believe that this freakish looking person is a baby. The movie reaches its true low point during a football game which just goes on and on, as if the Wayans had no idea what to do next. And let's not get into the fact that the movie just ends, and it feels as if Kerry Washington wasn't available to be there for the finale.

I hate to keep harping on this, but White Chicks not only destroyed my faith in the Wayans Brothers, but in mankind as well. Thus, I wasn't expecting much from Little Man and I was still disappointed. Even the argument that the film is aimed at 13-year old boys doesn't fly here, because that's about the point where I stopped maturing and I didn't laugh at this movie.

Little Man toddles onto DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. I can only imagine that it has something to do with the way in which the film was shot to accommodate the special effects, but this is one of the brightest transfer that I’ve seen in a long time. All of the interior scenes look way overlit on this DVD and there’s one scene which looks as if it were shot outside at high noon (there are crazy shadows everywhere!) The yellow paint in the main house only adds to this bright look. Thus, any interior shot looks washed out. The exterior scenes fair much better. On the plus side, there is hardly any grain to be had here and no defects from the source material. Artifacting is kept to a minimum. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which sounds fine. Being a Sony DVD, the audio is impressive, especially the surround sound. As this is a comedy, most of the audio is simply dialogue which comes from the center channel. But, there is a car-chase scene which displays great surround sound and subwoofer action.

The Little Man DVD offers a nice variety of extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY featuring Keenen Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans, and Shawn Wayans. This is an odd commentary as the brothers spend more time trying to make each other laugh than actually talking about the film or sharing any stories. At one point, they question who listens to audio commentaries. Very few should listen to one as pointless as this one. “Big Comedy” The Making of Little Man“ (15 minutes) is actually an above average making of featurette. The segment features interviews with cast and crew who talk about working with the special effects. There is some interesting behind-the-scenes footage and comments concerning the story, actors, and cameos. “From the Ground Up: The Visual Effects of Little Man“ (15 minutes) features comments from the visual and digital effects teams, and we get to see how Marlon’s head was digitally placed on the body of a small actor. Young actor Linden Porco, who played the body which Marlon Wayans was placed on, is profiled in “Linden’s World” (11 minutes). “Method or Madness” (4 minutes) is a very weird segment where Marlon Wayans shrinks down to microscopic size. Finally, we have 16 DELETED & EXTENDED SCENES which run about 28 minutes. The special effects are not complete in some scenes.

3 out of 10 Jackasses

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