Stars: Marlon Wayans, Linden Porco
Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans
** (out of five)
The last time we saw Marlon and Shawn Wayans, they were buried under latex and whiteface as the stars of White Chicks; their new film, Little Man, finds them reaching for a high concept even less plausible: Through the magic of digital technology, Marlon plays a two-foot tall jewel thief named Calvin, who impersonates a toddler in order to retrieve the massive diamond he’s stashed with a childless couple, played by brother Shawn and Kerry Washington, late of Ray.
Of course, things don’t go as smoothly as they should, so little Calvin must suffer the indignities of a well-meaning father figure — formula feedings, play dates and at least a couple of invasive diaperrelated issues — during his weekend undercover.
Oh, and there are also goons involved, sent by the mobster who hired Calvin for the diamond job, so inevitably there’ll come a violent reckoning where the beefy thugs similarly mistake Calvin for an actual infant and get a whole lot of Home Alonestyle hurt inflicted on ’em.
Yep, it’s Bugs Bunny and Baby-Face Finster all over again, although it turns out when you stretch a Looney Tunes one-reeler out to 97 minutes the jokes get kind of deformed — and the logistical hurdles that can be so gracefully vaulted in a short cartoon become much bigger.
But as they’ve demonstrated in their previous work, the Wayans brothers (and this includes big brother Keenen Ivory, who directed Little Man and filled its supporting cast with his In Living Color crew) aren’t terribly concerned about vaulting over logistical hurdles, or even writing a script that makes sense from one scene to the next.
What they do care about is firing one joke after another onto the screen, in the hopes that some of them will stick.