Welcome to Wayans world, where no premise is too outlandish, no sight gag too profane to harness for an evergrowing entertainment empire.
And so — with big brother Keenen Ivory Wayans doing the directing, younger brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans doing the acting and all three “writing” — we get whiteface drag spectacles such as “White Chicks” and the “Scary Movie” franchise. Schwing.
The trio’s latest offering, the pint-sized-criminalimpersonates-a-baby-to-steala-diamond comedy “Little Man” (yeah, another one of those), fulfills the Wayans’ solemn trust to their 18-to-24 male demographic. It’s vulgar, implausible, relentlessly lowbrow and — in rare, lurching stretches — admittedly funny.
Shawn Wayans plays Darryl, a wannabe dad who discovers an abandoned baby on his doorstep and brings the child into the home that he shares with his careeroriented fiancee, Vanessa (Kerry Washington from “Boston Legal”), and her aged, hectoring father, Pops (“Friday” gas-bag John Witherspoon). But that’s no baby, baby — it’s Calvin, a 2-foot diamond thief played by Marlon Wayans, whose winking, grimacing, poopy-pants likeness the filmmakers digitally paste onto a pair of stunt-midget bodies. Calvin will do the baby talk and suffer the rear-entry thermometers until he can get his hands on a stolen diamond he stashed in Vanessa’s purse.
Pity the person who would mistake Marlon Wayans, no matter how shrunken, for an infant, but Darryl and his ilk do, and it’s their gullibility that makes “Little Man” — on rare moments, I must stress that again, strongly — fun. Concerned about the baby’s health, Darryl takes him to the doctor, who marvels at his Army tattoo and bridgework: “This baby has the mouth of a 40-year-old man!” Indeed, and a 40-year-old libido, which makes Vanessa’s bubbleblowing sessions on his tummy raucously inappropriate.
Certainly, raunchiness is easier to endure than the obligatory “tender” moments when Calvin bathetically reflects on his own parentless childhood or the punchless denouement involving a gangster (Chazz Palminteri). Or, for that matter, the unfunny but oddly wholesome scenes in which Darryl gets smacked in the groin by a procession of errant toys and whiffle-ball bats.
A word on groin distress: In the Wayans universe, it fulfills roughly the same function as the buffalo in bygone American Indian cultures. They use it for sustenance, for ornamentation, as a deus ex machina to tie up dangling plot threads. In short, they use it all, and if nothing else, “Little Man” teaches us a lesson in conservation.