Ironically, clichés and stereotypes define everyone in romantic comedy The Little Tin Man except Herman (Aaron Beelner), a little person and actor who refuses to be typecast as a Munchkin in a Martin Scorsese–directed remake of The Wizard of Oz. Everyone condescends to Herman because of his height: “People see you and judge you right off the bat,” he carps.
Still, when Herman’s mother dies, he takes her advice, and starts taking his acting career seriously. Instead of “settling to be a punchline to some bad joke,” Herman fights to audition for a much bigger role: the Tin Man. But neither he nor the film gives anyone else the respect that he demands. Herman rolls his eyes when flamboyantly gay brother Gregg (Jeff Hiller) comes out of the closet. And to his love interest Miller (Kay Cannon) he mocks heavily accented Latino friend Juan (Emmanuel Maldonado), warning her not to make fun of Juan’s pronunciation of “JewTube.”
Herman and Miller’s relationship isn’t much more sensitive. He, a nice guy who’s too afraid to ask Miller out on a date, gets jealous when she, his best friend of several years, takes notice of Pete (Chris Henry Coffey), a dickish bartender. “Miller is too good for him,” Herman whines to Juan. “She deserves to be with someone that will treat her with respect, and appreciate her for who she really is.”
Herman eventually stops being so childishly possessive. But the fact that he spends much of the film demanding better treatment from others while preemptively condemning them says a lot about The Little Tin Man‘s everyone-but-me progressivism.