A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film is filled with sexual allusions pushing the PG-13 envelope (visible tongue-kissing, foreplay under covers, references to penis sizes and sperm counts, bouncing breasts, comments about women's bodies). Characters commit frequent, loud acts of violence (hits, falls, collisions, and kicks), resulting in brief bruising and pain inflicted on small children. A character tricks another into having sex with him. The film includes vulgar bodily-function jokes alongside the sex and violence, including a dog urinating on Cal dressed as a baby in a basket, flatulence in a bathtub, spitting up/spraying breast milk, a thunderous bowel movement, and the "baby" rubbing Pops' bedtime cookie on his crotch and bottom to make it stinky.
What's the story?
Just released from prison and in need of fast cash, a very short thief named Cal (Marlon Wayans) and his dimwitted partner Percy (Tracy Morgan) steal a gigantic diamond from a posh jeweler. A dog gets in the way, the cops show up, and Cal drops the rock into a nearby purse, belonging to Vanessa (Kerry Washington). To recover his loot, Cal pretends to be a baby and so moves in with Vanessa, her husband Darryl (Shawn Wayans), and her father Pops (John Witherspoon). As an "infant," Cal tries to nurse on a visitor's buxom breasts, hits Darryl in the crotch repeatedly, steals Pops bacon and pancakes, and suffers the insertion of a rectal thermometer, but he's also agile enough to play tackle football, drive a car while chased by screeching police cars, and beat up the thugs who come to take the diamond from him. At night Cal sneaks into Vanessa's bed and has sex with her (off camera); the next morning she compliments Darryl for his new energy and creativity.
Is it any good?
Noisy and gleefully stupid, LITTLE MAN is a one-joke movie that doesn't pretend to be anything else. None of it is very funny -- the gags are both predictable and uneven. Aside from the antics, there's a central pseudo-emotional story having to do with Cal's evolving relationship with Darryl, who bond over some similarities. Also submerged beneath the overwrought gags and terrible special effects is an idea: What if babies did have thoughts about their parents' inane conduct? But the movie doesn't do much beyond set up the possibility.
Though director Keenen Ivory Wayans started out making politically edgy spoofs of pop cultural clichés (see: I'm Gonna Git You Sucka or Scary Movie), this film is focused on juvenile poop, sex, and physical abuse jokes. While these are repetitive, the utter lack of imagination regarding the women characters (reduced to types: sex object, careerist, mother) is flat-out irritating.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's seeming reinforcement of good father-son relations through a premise that involves deception, selfishness, and adultery. When Darryl and Cal finally bond "as adults," why is it significant that this involves violence and then drinking? They can also talk about the appeal of gross-out comedies and where the line is between silly and offensive.
- In theaters: July 14, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: November 7, 2006
- Cast: Kerry Washington, Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans
- Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual humor throughout, language and brief drug references
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.