It's a comic premise as old as man himself: Somebody moves into a place of domestic tranquility and proceeds to wreak havoc. (It was a duplicitous snake that busted up the first happy home.) In due time, all parties involved learn a valuable lesson about life, love or how not to throw a party. It's a set-up so favored by creatively bereft studios that two comedies this week give the old pest-in-the-house routine another airing.
In You, Me and Dupree, co-directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (Welcome to Collinwood), kissy-face newlyweds Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson) grudgingly let Carl's best friend Dupree (Owen Wilson) move in. Dupree's an overgrown boy prone to dreaming, various states of undress and, naturally, bowel problems.
Adding to Carl's stress is his fractious relationship with his father-in-law and boss, portrayed by Michael Douglas on smarmy autopilot. Carl works at a real-estate development company whose pretentious Buddhist-inspired trappings provide the film's only subtle jokes (a site plan for a tacky, cramped suburban development resembles a meditation labyrinth). But mostly Dupree is a witless, overly familiar comedy that gives Hudson and Dillon little to do but fume cutely while Wilson trots out his stoner shtick.
Keenen Ivory Wayan's Little Man isn't much better, but at least it freshens up the premise with an admittedly ludicrous twist: The unwanted guest is a nasty-ass diminutive gangster evading the law by posing as an orphaned baby. Prospective parents-to-be Shawn Wayans and Kerry Washington take in little Calvin (Marlon Wayans), whose lecherous and larcenous behavior messes with their Buppie equilibrium.
That the filmmakers (all three Wayans wrote the script) would pursue such a dumb idea ... the man-as-baby gimmick is utterly unsustainable ... almost makes this film loopy enough to merit the briefest of nods to absurdist humor. But, typical of the Wayans brothers' cheerfully vulgar comedies (White Chicks, Scary Movie 1 and 2), much of the humor occurs below the belt. You're apt to laugh once or twice, in spite of yourself.
Unimaginable amounts of technology have been marshaled so that the head of Marlon Wayan appears seamlessly atop the stubby body of a child actor. Essentially, only Wayan's head is acting, and he pours it on, mugging shamelessly in a series of laughably bad baby bonnets and caps.
Somewhere in all that mess about tits, poop and dumbbell gangsters, Little Man offer a subplot about the importance of father-son connections. Like much of the film's humor, the sentimental wrap-up is shopworn, but somehow it slides by on its own goofy charm. The Wayans' heart is in the right place, even if it is lodged in a grown man's diapers. You, Me and Dupree: Ab; Little Man: