Sometimes, films are unjustly judged, and others, popular opinion needs to be challenged. Either way, this will almost definitely be Unpopularity Content.
The Wayans Brothers are responsible for a staggering amount of ’00s comedies. Though films like White Chicks and Scary Movie remain popular years later, there are those that didn’t fare quite so well. Chief among these is Little Man, released in 2006.
Little Man follows Calvin “Babyface” Simms (Marlon Wayans), a criminal with dwarfism recently released from prison. After stealing a precious diamond, Calvin is forced to stash it with a passing woman’s belongings. When she leaves with the diamond, Calvin is decides he must infiltrate her home. He learns that the woman and her boyfriend, Darryl (Shawn Wayans) are trying for a baby, so exploits his short stature to pose as an infant, hoping to recover the diamond.
Putting aside that it might be one of the dumbest movie premises of all time, Little Man is also pretty problematic. By its nature, the film is majorly insensitive to people with dwarfism, as it reduces the condition to little more than a punchline. It’s only fair, then, to assess exactly what the film does wrong, and whether it has any redeeming qualities.
The Horrifying Premise Of Little Man Is Matched Only By Its Nightmarish Visuals
The idea that a grown man could pass for a baby is ludicrous, but the way that Little Man uses its central idea is far more troubling. The most common jokes are sexual in nature, and show Calvin actively enjoying behaving like a baby in order to engage women sexually. It’s not just unfunny, but it’s also incredibly disturbing.
It shouldn’t shock anyone to learn that Marlon Wayans does not have dwarfism. For the film, his face has been superimposed onto a child’s body with truly unsettling results. Though it’s clear that some scenes used practical trickery, it’s also obvious when technology has been (poorly) applied. A grown man digitally given dwarfism acting as though he’s a baby really is as visually offensive as it sounds.
Little Man’s Attempts At Touching Emotional Beats Are Painfully Misguided
Little Man does try to make a few statements on the importance of a parent’s role in a child’s life. The father-son bonding between Calvin and Darryl tries to be touching, but Calvin’s ongoing deception just makes it feel sinister. Because of this, there’s no real way for Little Man to access any deeper themes or ideas.
There’s also an ingrained misogyny in Little Man that’s impossible to escape. The relationship between father and son is properly explored, mothers treated primarily as sex objects to Calvin. It creates an unsavory subtext about how the film’s characters perceive women’s role in society, particularly with regard to family life. There’s vague Oedipal tones to certain scenes, although the script is generally so brainless that it’s pretty obviously unintentional.
Little Man does very little and says even less. It’s a movie in which its characters learn nothing, and the jokes it tries to sell are vaguely offensive and chronically unfunny. Despite major holes in its premise, it does follow a reasonably coherent story, but that’s perhaps one of its only saving graces. Tracy Morgan and John Witherspoon put in reasonably funny performances in minor supporting roles, too. Other than that, Little Man remains a scourge upon cinema and should be forgotten as quickly as possible.
Summary: Little Man is unfunny and tedious on the surface, but it’s vaguely sinister underneath. The misguided ideas it’s built upon ultimately make it one of the worst comedies of all time.
Highlight: Tracy Morgan is able to deliver one or two laughs even while everyone around him turns proceedings sour.