I must admit that I fully expected to hate this film. Turns out, I didn’t. The truth is, Little Man, the latest comedy from the Wayans brothers, is too harmless for such a vehement reaction.
Sure, Little Man is not very good, but if you can manage to check your brain at the door, you’ll probably get some laughs out of it. Then again, they’re probably the same laughs you had watching the trailer. My problem with comedy like this is that it’s really much better suited to short sketches than feature films.
It’s a little late to convince the Wayans of that, because here we are with a 98-minute feature that should have been a fifth of that. It tells the story of Calvin Sims (Marlon Wayans), a tiny criminal who, upon release from prison, teams up with his intellectually challenged pal Percy to steal a large diamond for a mobster (played straight by Chazz Palminteri). They botch the job, and their diamond ends up in the purse of Vanessa (Kerry Washington), the wife of Darryl (Shawn Wayans), who really wants to be a dad.
He gets his wish, sort of, when Calvin disguises himself as a baby to infliltrate the couple’s yuppie suburban home and retrieve the diamond. That sets up the film’s main joke and premise, which has Marlon Wayans’ head on a 2.5-foot body.
The effect is done well, thanks to a respectable effects team that had the benefit of an energetic performance from film-rookie Linden Porco, who played the body for Marlon Wayans’ head, and his expressive face. Their performance is solid. As for the rest of the cast, it’s a mixed bag. The best comedic work comes from SNL alumni Molly Shannon and Rob Schneider, who both appear in scene-stealing cameos. The weakest link is Shawn Wayans, who offers up a half-assed, unconvincing performance as Darryl, the wannabe dad.
All told, Little Man is a harmless collection of gags that mostly miss their targets, but if you’re a fan of the Wayans’ work, you’ll likely enjoy this groin-shot-laden film.
So how’s the DVD?
Little Man – Loaded with Extra Crap Edition is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen format. The transfer looks good. The picture is sharp and mostly clean, and I have only one real complaint – the colours look a little washed out.
The manic menus are animated, and include music.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is also just fine. Nothing fantastic here, but dialogue is always clear, and the surround channels get a bit of use here and there. The film’s score and soundtrack both sound well defined, but there’s nothing here to get swept away by.
5.1 Audio is available in English and French, and English and French subtitles are also available.
The bonus material offering is quite good. It includes an audio commentary, four featurettes, a ton of deleted and extended scenes and some trailers.
The audio commentary is by the Wayans brothers, Shawn, Marlon and director Keenan. Insight-wise it’s about average, but a couple of things stick out. First, the brothers seem to get on each other’s nerves pretty readily, which really makes wonder what it’s like when they hole themselves up in room to write a screenplay. Second, the guys keep telling us how funny everyone in the movie is, which had me wondering why I wasn’t laughing with or at most of their work. Is it me?
The first featurette is a making-of entitled Big Comedy: The Making of Little Man. It runs about 14 minutes, and it’s pretty good. It avoids the usual pitfall of telling us what the movie’s about, so it obviously wasn’t a promo piece. Instead, it covers some interesting aspects of the film’s creation through a combination of interview clips with cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage. There’s some great stuff here.
Next up is From the Ground Up, a visual effects featurette. This film is fairly unique in that while it’s not a giant blockbuster, it still relies heavily on visual effects to succeed. This featurette gives us 14 minutes of background on creating the title character. It’s neat to watch, particularly because this is a different sort of visual effect. Plenty of example footage here, mixed with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.
The third featurette is also strong. It’s called Linden’s World, because it’s all about Linden Porco, the little guy who played the body. Here we get to know this energetic nine-year-old, from his family and home life in Winnipeg to his work on the film’s production. We learn how Porco got into acting, and how he surprised the filmmakers – they were expecting a body, but they got a pint-sized actor who helped raise the performance to a higher level. This one runs about 11 minutes.
The last featurette, Method or Madness, is a 3-minute satire about the highly praised sacrifices actors make to fit their roles. We’re told Marlon Wayans has actually shrunk himself down to play Sims, but he keeps shrinking, and the fix-it machine is broken. What follows is an amusing few minutes of interviews and fictional anecdotes.
And then we have the deleted and extended scenes. There are 16 in all – a lot to see here, but mostly these are jokes that didn’t quite work for various reasons, and/or lengthier versions of the same scene that would have hurt the overall film. There are actually a couple of gems here, so these are worth a look.
Finally, there are some trailers. And when I say some, I mean 14; I guess they had room left on the disc.
Little Man is a harmless, brainless comedy, presented on a quality DVD. You probably already know whether or not you’ll enjoy this film, and if you will, you’ll be happy to know there’s a great set of bonus content on this Loaded with Extra Crap Edition.
Special Features List
- Audio commentary
- Big Comedy: The Making of Little Man
- From the Ground Up, visual effects featurette
- Linden’s World
- Method or Madness
- Deleted and extended scenes