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Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
2003 - PG-13 - 99 Mins.
Director: Sam Weisman
Producer: Adam Sandler
Written By: Fred Wolf and David Spade
Starring: David Spade, Alyssa Milano, Rob Reiner, Corey Feldman, Jon Lovitz, Danny Bonaduce, Brendan Fraser, Doris Roberts, Mary McCormack, Dustin Diamond, Barry Williams
Review by: John Ulmer
   

This movie is nucking futs. Get me my script for Joe Dirt 2!
It's sweet. It's gooey. It's ridiculously sentimental. It's a David Spade movie. What? This is nucking futs.

"Nucking futs" is indeed the trademark slogan that made young Dickie Roberts an enormously successful child star at the tender age of six. His mother (Doris Roberts, playing herself of course) used to audition Dickie for anything available--even Pippi Longstocking. But after his hit TV show was canceled, Dickie had to move on with his life. Now, he's a valet at a restaurant, who looks a heck of a lot like David Spade. And he only got hired as a valet in the first place because the manager of the place liked his show.

This is what an opening mockumentary tells us, at least. It also tells us that in Dickie's free time (and he has a lot of it), he plays poker with other washed-up child stars, including Danny Bonaduce ("The Partridge Family"), Barry Williams ("The Brady Bunch"), Dustin Diamond (Screech from "Saved by the Bell"), and Corey Feldman ("Gremlins," "The Goonies," "Stand by Me"). But Dickie desperately wants to make it big, so he auditions for Rob Reiner's next big movie by getting Brendan Fraser to make a call for him (cameos galore). Dickie's agent (Jon Lovitz) even gives a liver to Rob Reiner (who needs another by the end of the film) as a bribe for an audition.

The one problem with Dickie, however, is that he never had a normal childhood. Reiner doesn't think that Dickie could make a feature length film work because of this. Other than that, Dickie's got the part. So what does Dickie do? He rents a family for a month in an effort to re-live his childhood.

Spade came up with the idea for "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star," and it's a bit of an ode to himself. He was never a child star, but he got a part early on in one of the "Police Academy" sequels, then joined "Saturday Night Live." But he's never gotten to be as big a star as, say, Bill Murray or Chevy Chase or Adam Sandler (who produced the film with his company Happy Madison), et al. His last film was "Joe Dirt" (2001), which was beyond awful. This film is delightfully refreshing in light of Spade's other misadventures, which also include "Lost and Found" and "The Emperor's New Groove"--although that wasn't a misadventure, I actually liked it quite a bit. Too bad he wasn't *really* in it, if you know what I mean.

The film is directed by Sam Weisman, who has handled Bernie Mac's FOX television show, a few episodes of "7th Heaven," and the 1999 remake of "The Out-of-Towners" starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. It figures. A lot of "Dickie Roberts" wallows in television-esque sentimental moments--the kind where you think, Right, okay, is this supposed to be serious? But of course it's not, it's a David Spade movie. And as far as Spade's film ventures have gone thus far, "Dickie Roberts" is certainly his best.

I must admit that some of the sentimental goo got to be a bit too much. I enjoyed the movie in-jokes (I always do), and the cameos were delightful (Alyssa Milano is credited right under Spade, but even her small role in the film is nothing more than a cameo--although she does show more skin than anyone else, so maybe there's a clause in her contract...).

The contrived romance between Dickie and his rented "mother" is awfully unbelivable, but so was the relationship in "Happy Gilmore" and "Billy Madison" and any film Adam Sandler touches in any way, shape or form. (Even "Punch-Drunk Love" had its moments where you had to stop and wonder what Emily Watson saw in him.)

But that didn't bother me very much because I liked this movie. Spade has created a smarmy but sweet character who--unlike a lot of Sandler's characters (i.e. "The Waterboy")--isn't terribly annoying and, in the end, actually makes a gradual change in character. I liked "Happy Gilmore" more than this, but when it comes to, say, "The Waterboy," I didn't laugh at all--and I laughed a lot at "Dickie Roberts."

I also enjoyed getting to hear the end credits song. You'll never guess who says the F-word. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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