Being different is much easier to deal with when the characteristic that sets you apart isn’t immediately visible. In Matthew Perkins‘ very entertaining and heartfelt first film, The Little Tin Man, Herman (Aaron Beelner) is a struggling actor who works as a waiter in his family’s NYC restaurant. Herman also happens to be a little person, something that makes the typecasting he often finds himself up against even more glaring when he auditions for a Martin Scorsese remake of the Wizard of Oz.
While casting directors are enthusiastic about Herman’s chance of landing the part of the Mayor of Munchkin Land, Herman has his sights set on the role of the Tin Man – a part that, due to his height, he is not even allowed to audition for. When his mother passes away suddenly, leaving the restaurant to his flamboyant older half-brother, Gregg (played brilliantly by the hilarious Jeff Hiller, who steals every scene he is in) while Herman’s only “inheritance” is the advice that he get serious about his acting career, he is forced to undertake an ingenious plan to make his dream of playing the Tin Man come true.
The Little Tin Man finds its unique humor and heart when Herman enlists the help of his restaurant co-workers including his brother, best gal-pal Miller (played by comedy writer Kay Cannon), on whom he also has a secret crush, Dishwasher Juan (Emmanual Maldonado) and bartender Pete (Chris Henry Coffey, who reminds me very much of Greg Kinnear) to help him make an audition tape that he can then sneak in to Scorcese while he is guesting on the Rachel Ray Show (don’t ask).
Despite its heavier message of prejudices we all have against people who look different, and serious plot undertones, this is a very sweet, funny and uplifting film. The Little Tin Man has the engaging, laid back feel of a cable TV sitcom similar to Curb Your Enthusiasm or Stephen Merchant’s Hello Ladies, and the appealing ensemble cast shares such a good chemistry, I really felt like I could watch a weekly adventure with these characters. Very highly recommended!
The Little Tin Man now is screening locally at the Williamsburg Cinemas in Brooklyn and is available via Video On Demand nationwide.
The Worley Gig Gives The Little Tin Man Four out of Five Stars