Marlon Wayans Plays Easy Stereotypes for Laughs that Never Come in “Sextuplets”

I want to get this out of the way right now: I like Marlon Wayans. I think he’s a genuinely talented actor with a wonderful sense of comedic timing and could be poised to be one of the best comedic actors of the current age.

Why he keeps doing these three feet under the bottom of the barrel comedies is beyond me.

Here we have Sextuplets, the story of a man who is married to the love of his life and is about to welcome his child into the world but, as he was given up for adoption when he was a baby, yearns to learn about his own family history and is shocked to discover that he is one of six sextuplets. Of course, he goes off on a journey to find his siblings and I suppose that hilarity was supposed to ensue, but I’m not sure.

First of all, let’s talk about this: Reach back into the darkest and most ignorant corner of your mind and retrieve the most blatant stereotypes of black people that you have. Chances are, you just discovered the character traits of almost every single one of the siblings in this movie. The loud violent one, the lecherous thieving one, the skinny diseased one, the fat one… they’re all there and all as funny as you would imagine. Marlon Wayans plays all of these parts as though he’s trying to out-Nutty Professor Eddie Murphy, only he’s incapable of reaching that level and settles for Norbit instead.

I can honestly forgive stereotypes because, let’s be frank, sometimes they work. Mama and Papa Klump, for example… they were two-dimensional characters, yet they were funny and, when they needed to be actual people, they had heart, they had emotions, and they had warmth making them more than just a joke. The characters in Sextuplets have none of that… it was as though the writers thought, “Fat guy, ex-con, grifter… Eh, that’s good enough!”

Even when the movie breaks with the mold and goes for something far out there like a secret agent, it’s forced and one-dimensional. This isn’t a person, it’s a gag that grows stale after thirty seconds.

Normally, I could forgive this if the movie were a farce, but it’s not… it is trying to be a farce, but then wants to be heartfelt and serious as well and all of it is unearned and insincere. You can’t be one without being the other. You can’t make me take a stereotype seriously: They have to be better than just a joke and makeup.

To its credit, Sextuplets almost nails it with one character, the grifter who tries to steal the main character’s identity. It doesn’t do it well, but it actually does try to delve deeper to discover why this guy is the way he is and then make him a person who grows. By no coincidence, his arch in the movie was my favorite sort of like how a cold is my favorite infirmity.

Still, it’s hard to sympathize with a character and come to like a guy who scams his way into a house and surreptitiously goes to a breastfeeding class with his identical brother’s pregnant wife just so he can look at boobs. It’s like a slightly less offensive version of the comedic rape in Little Man and, yes… that was rape. Why does Marlon Wayans think that kind of thing is funny?

The movie is obviously hot garbage. It’s all over the place, none of the jokes land – I honestly don’t remember laughing once – and most of the plot is as predictable as you think it is. If I could point at one single gleaming redeemable factor in Sextuplets, it is that it is not nearly as toxic or purposefully disgusting as Marlon Wayan’s other efforts.

I want to like Marlon Wayans, I really do. It pains me to see someone as obviously talented as he is and funny as he is continue to churn out absolute garbage. He obviously idolizes Eddie Murphy, but right now he can only be in the same league as Eddie Murphy if you skip Eddie Murphy’s work from the 80’s and most of the 90’s.

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