Marlon Wayans tackles an outlandish family dynamic all by himself in this moderately funny Netflix diversion.
The chameleonic Wayans family has always been difficult to keep track of, so one member playing six siblings isn’t altogether unexpected. Neither is the fact that it’s Marlon — these days he’s the only one who still seems commercially viable, content not to say outrageous things on syndicated breakfast radio shows and instead tag-team with Netflix to deliver the outrage to your living room. His last project on the streaming giant was Naked, a Groundhog Day knockoff time-loop comedy. His latest, out today, is Sextuplets, in which he plays an expectant father, Alan, who goes looking for his long-lost family and discovers he was just one of a set of sextuplets.
Wayans plays all the siblings, too: Alan, a dork brother, a jailbird sister, and three others, all slathered in varying degrees of makeup and boasting exaggerated personae. The potentially interesting fact of how six twins ended up so different is handwaved away in the simplest possible terms, leaving only the pleasure in fat-suit Marlon working his way through a lowest-common-denominator screenplay that is always vulgar and occasionally outrageous but never really veers into genuinely risque territory, one assumes to preserve its highly profitable parents-and-older-kids target demographic.
Sextuplets relies on the elaborate prosthetics and effects that allow Marlon to act against himself, since how he acts against himself is less convincing than the make-up. You can always see the seams of the editing, and most of director Michael Tiddes’ experimentation with framing tends to bring them into starker relief. The laziest but also most accurate criticism is that Sextuplets is more or less exactly what you’d expect from Marlon Wayans, the synopsis, and a Netflix Original comedy; it’s funnier than a lot of them but unlikely to impress anyone who has seen the same tricks employed to better effect in the past.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.