Marlon Wayans channels “Nutty Professor”-era Eddie Murphy in the Netflix comedy “Sextuplets,” tackling multiple roles — some in heavy make-up — while telling the story of a father-to-be who goes looking for his long-lost family. Wayans plays the buttoned-down middle-class professional Alan, as well as his nerdy brother, his incarcerated sister and three other goofy siblings who all make Alan think twice about the genetic material he’s about to pass along.
The movie follows a loose road trip structure, as Alan searches for his biological mother and discovers he was actually one of a set of sextuplets, five of which were given up for adoption. While he’s tracking them down, his pregnant wife is saddled with the con-artist sextuplet Ethan, who’s imitating Alan and trying to grift his co-workers.
Directed by Michael Tiddes (best-known for the Wayans horror spoof “A Haunted House”), “Sextuplets” is cartoonishly vulgar, though never raunchy enough to exceed a PG-13/TV-14 rating. The target audience here is families with older kids, looking for something silly to watch together.
But while Wayans plays these characters with gusto, he also treats them with more than a little disgust, making fun of their bodies, their upbringing, their social awkwardness and so on.
The movie surely isn’t meant to be mean. But there’s an underlying sourness that makes “Sextuplets” much less fun than the pictures it’s imitating. The film ultimately suggests maybe Alan’s better off not having a family, if they’re all going to be so grating.