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Fifteen years ago, Marlon and Shawn Wayans plastered on pale makeup, blue contacts, and flowing blonde wigs for White Chicks. The undercover FBI comedy had the brothers starring in a laugh-out-loud comedy that became a quotable cult classic for years to come. Was the concept strange? Yes! But it sort of worked anyways. It's too bad the same can't be said about Marlon Wayan's latest transformative trick.
The comedic actor has teamed up with frequent collaborator Michael Tiddes for the fifth time for Sextuplets, following the Haunted House movies, Fifty Shades of Black and Naked. The new Netflix film is a continuing of that particular idiocy saga. The movie has Marlon Wayans carrying the narrative through a nearly unwatchable series of antics via Alan, a man who decides to leave the side of his very pregnant wife (Bresha Webb) to go on a road-trip comedy in search of his long-lost family.
He quickly learns that he belongs to a set of six siblings born from the same pregnancy. Each takes turns running into him – all played by Marlon. That’s right: he plays all six, wildly different characters. A heavy-set TV buff named Russell; a sassy female convict named Dawn; and the 4-foot, hospital-ridden Baby Pete are a few of the incredibly annoying clichés viewers will come across in Sextuplets.
Every time Alan meets one of the sextuplets the same (already bad) joke plays out again and again without fail: talk about seeing double! Plus, get ready to be stuck in a loop of early ‘00s-esque comedic blunders and lazy storytelling trite wrapped up in a tacky bow that is the whole shrugged-shouldered “Welp, that’s my family!” digression that is supposed to be read as heartwarming. This movie feels like it dropped right out of some freak time warp or was locked away in some mislabeled dusty studio file cabinet likely meant for the trash bin before getting a streaming service distribution deal.
The singular attribute Sextuplets has going for it are the technical achievements it accomplishes. Director Michael Tiddes wanted to raise the stakes of Eddie Murphy’s iconic The Nutty Professor by making a film that had Marlon playing as many characters as he did. In this respect the movie is a success, as it seamlessly showcases Marlon as multiple autonomous characters who interact with each other throughout the film. A couple of them even engage in a physical fight at one point, and it's surprisingly convincing.
If you step back and just admire the editing tricks, subtle use of body doubles, and so forth, Sextuplets is a touch of movie magic. Or it would be movie magic if the audience didn’t have to step back in order to enjoy it. Movies should completely transport us into realities we’re willing to accept and embrace. The costumes and technicality of the bit is executed well, but the content make it tough for audiences to enjoy the achievements.
The idea Sextuplets centers on has one key disadvantage which is really inherent within its creation. You start to feel a disconnect between Marlon Wayans’ six characters in his scenes with them because there is a lack of genuine emotion or sincerity. His delivery more often than not is purposefully dumb, corny and uninteresting. Multiply that times six and you have just about the worst movie you might see all year.
The ending’s twist is easy to predict, and the characters are circling a dull and lifeless plot that barely earns that term. You might be willing to give this a pass if you are a diehard Marlon Wayans fan, as he is given optimal screen time to show off his talents and offer up multiple sides of his personality and humor. It's material that would have been much better suited to a short sketch, though, because Sextuplets wastes no time stretching itself thin.
Audiences have a nice luxury to take advantage of with Sextuplets: it’s a Netflix original movie. There are few prerequisites or obstacles in quitting while you’re ahead. If you find it as insufferable as it truly is, turning it off is simple. You might find more entertainment scrolling around the streaming platform’s content library for 90 minutes than pressing play on this one.