Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans. Starring Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Tracy Morgan, Kerry Washington, John Witherspoon, Chazz Palminteri, Lochlyn Munro. (2006, PG-13, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., July 21, 2006
In my role as your servant, I’ve seen a lot of people get hit in the crotch. Please don’t ask me why filmmakers find crotch injuries funny; all I can do is warn you that they’re there. It is especially unfunny when parents get hit in the crotch by children, but that gag is No. 1 on the hit parade of this Wayans farce about a diminutive ex-con (Marlon, whose face has been digitally superimposed upon the body of a little person) who poses as a foundling baby in order to retrieve a stolen diamond. He lands on the doorstep of a Buppie couple (Shawn and Washington) who take him in despite the protestations of cranky Pops (Witherspoon). They take him to the park with their friends, they have a birthday party with Rob Schneider (playing a schlub in a Barney-esque suit), and various dads get hit in the crotch again and again. They dress him in outrageous jammies with ears. They take his temperature rectally. It’s almost as painful and humiliating to watch as I imagine it would be to actually experience these events as a little person infantilized and held captive by idiots. Occasionally the movie actually tries to be about the emotional states of parenthood and family, but its heart isn’t in it because it has no heart. As the career woman reluctant to step into motherhood, Washington is barely around, probably because her character is unsuited to being hit in the crotch, beaten with a bat, or peed on by a dog. I would tell you that the digital effects are horrible, but if you can accept the very idea of Marlon Wayans’ face on the body of an infantilized baby-man in diapers – a body that actually belongs to a physically challenged individual – who’s to care about the effects? Sometimes I laughed in spite of myself at the jokes but felt deep and crippling shame thereafter. To be entirely fair, there are some legitimately funny moments. I liked Alex Borstein and Fred Stoller as doughy attachment-parenting types who rise against the group’s alpha mom and dad (Munro and Brittany Daniel), and I liked Wayans regular Kelly Coffield, who does a Margaret Dumont-type thing for the brothers. That’s all fine, and I understand the satirical import of the race gags. But 97% of the movie will make you need a shower. Possibly two.