Wednesday, 2 August 2006

Little Man (2006)

Q: What can be worse than making an unoriginal and uninspired film?
A: Making a film that is a blatant work of plagiarism.

As a movie reviewer, I can tell you that unoriginality is not a sin. For remakes and quite often in genre films, directors and scriptwriters end up making more polished and refined films the more they take on the same type of material. However, I have an intolerance when filmmakers lift ideas, scenes, and dialogue wholesale from a previous work and pass it off as their own, without acknowledging the originator of the idea. That’s called plagiarism, and if you do it in school, you will no longer have a place in school. Simply put, it’s the sin of being completely uncreative, pretending otherwise, hoping no one notices, and then hoping to profit from it.

Q: What can be worse than making a plagiaristic work?
A: When your film plagiarises a short cartoon from the 1954.

In Baby Buggy Bunny, Babyface Finster, a criminal who happens to be a dwarf, has to masquerade as a baby in order to get retrieve his ill-gotten gains from a clever bank robbery, after the money is dropped down Bug Bunny’s rabbit hole.

In Little Man, “Babyface” Calvin (Marlon Wayans), a criminal who happens to be a dwarf (the torso of Linden Porco), has to masquerade as a baby (the torso of Gabriel Pimental) in order to retrieve his ill-gotten gains from a clever jewellery store heist, after the jewel is dropped into the purse of Vanessa (Kerry Washington).

Q: What can be worse than that, then?
A: When it’s so blatant almost everyone notices the rip-off (i.e. US critics who saw this in May, like Art Biniger).

There’s the scene where Bugs Bunny discovers a military tattoo on the baby. That scene is repeated when Darryl (Shawn Wayans) and Vanessa discover a military tattoo on the baby.

There’s another scene where the baby is given the “upsy daisy” by an initially reluctant adoptive parent. Occurs in both films.

There’s yet another key scene, the “lights out gag”, where baby clubs a henchman over the head every time he turns off the lights, and you get to see what’s happening in silhouette.

And these are some of the best scenes in Little Man. This is not only unoriginal, it is mindlessly uncreative, and the Wayans brothers didn’t even bother to acknowledge their debt to Chuck Jones or Michael Maltese, the creators of Baby Buggy Bunny, in the end credits. Did the Wayanses think movie audiences wouldn’t notice? The old Bugs Bunny cartoon is syndicated and still showing around the world!

Q: You’re not going to tell me there’s more.
A: When everyone also notices how utterly incompetent the filmmakers are.

The main comedy in Little Man appears to be the Wayans brothers trademark scatological and raunchy jokes. In this case, just think of all the NC16 situations a grown man masquerading as a baby can get in, and you have half of the jokes in this movie, which centre around inappropriate contact between that man/baby and his adoptive mother and other female caregivers.

Problem: Marlon Wayans’s head is glued very badly to the torsos of Porco and Pimental that you can see how much it moves the wrong way from the body, or how much his head jiggles (a sign of cheap and nasty CGI). You will giggle not at the risqué jokes, but at the horrible CGI.

Then, imagine all the jokes involving hits to the groin, urine on the face, and you’ll have the other half of the jokes in this movie.

Problem: You’ve seen these jokes elsewhere, in Scary Movie 2 and 3, and in other ranchy movies from the past 2 years. The Wayans brothers have actually achieved something they’ve never done before, which is to make a movie with recycled raunchy jokes that have been watered down. If you’re going to make a bad comedy, at least put in some effort with these grotesque jokes!

Ordinarily, I’d say this is the worst movie you can watch this year, but then audiences did flock to the cinemas to watch Superman Returns, where the titular hero exists in a world that doesn’t notice Clark Kent looks exactly like Superman, even with his spectacles on. These same audience should flock to the cinemas to watch Little Man, where the titular anti-hero exists in a world that doesn’t notice the cute little baby looks exactly like an ugly dwarf.

First published at incinemas on 7 September 2006

No comments: