Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star movie review, Sam Weisman, David Spade, Craig Bierko

A scene from 'Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star'
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* star
99 minutes | Rated: PG-13
WIDE: Friday, September 5, 2003
Directed by Sam Weisman

Starring David Spade, Mary McCormack, Jon Lovitz, Scott Tera, Jenna Boyd, Craig Bierko, Willie Aames, Danny Bonaduce, Ambyr Childers, Dustin Diamond, Rachel Dratch, Corey Feldman, Leif Garrett, Emmanuel Lewis, Maureen McCormick, Alyssa Milano, Erin Murphy, Shannon Murphy, Rob Reiner, Doris Roberts, Barry Williams, Tom Arnold, Brendan Fraser

This film received a Dishonorable Mention on the Worst of 2003 list.


For hardcore Spade fans only (if there is such a thing). Everyone else run away!

   VIDEO RELEASE: 04.17.2004

  • Sam Weisman
  • David Spade
  • Mary McCormack
  • Jon Lovitz
  • Craig Bierko
  • Rob Reiner
  • Tom Arnold
  • Brendan Fraser

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    Watch the trailer (apple.com)
    Spade phones in performance as 'Former Child Star' trying to relaunch his career

    By Rob Blackwelder

    Another ill-conceived mish-mash of puerile humor and disingenuous sap from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison production company, "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" features David Spade as a Hollywood has-been trying to recapture the childhood he never had in an attempt to win a comeback role as a "normal guy."

    In what should have been a perfect role for his meager talents and snarky, one-note persona, Spade barely even tries to create a character beyond being crass, uncouth and insecure -- in short, his usual schtick -- and wearing gloves all the time as some short-hand attempt at eccentric paranoid psychoses.

    The only effort put toward establishing his credibility as a former child star (beyond flashbacks of a young Dickie repeating the amusingly tasteless catch phrase "This is nucking futs!") is to ply the film with cameos by kiddie actors whose careers have faltered in adulthood. Dickie plays poker with Leif Garrett, Dustin "Screech" Diamond, Corey Feldman, Danny Bonaduce and Barry "Greg Brady" Williams, who places bets using "Brady Bunch" tchotchkes he claims are "worth at least $2 on eBay!"

    Bookended with fictional "E! True Hollywood Story" snippets about Dickie that display not a hint of badly-needed irony (didn't these guys see "The Simpsons'" brilliant "VH-1: Behind the Laughter" episode?), the movie's plot revolves around the washed-up actor moving in with a young family to learn about how real people grow up.

    But Spade and director Sam Weisman (whose history of bombs includes the "Out-of-Towners" remake and "What's the Worst That Could Happen?") pay only lip service to this concept, mostly through ineffectually staged, stereotypical episodes of childhood. For the balance of the movie, when Spade isn't knocking out transparently self-aware ad-libs or helping the kids (Scott Tera and Jenna Boyd) stand up to bullies and win spots on the pep squad, he's skulking around the pretty, martially neglected mom (Mary McCormack, the only adult actor not phoning it in) in a clumsy attempt at a romantic subplot.

    All of this builds up to Dickie's big audition for the lead in a schmaltzy Rob Reiner movie -- an audition Weisman doesn't have the courage to show because Spade doesn't have the talent to pull off the authenticity and emotion he's supposedly learned from his experiences.

    I could catalog the movie's ineptitude through examples of its continuity problems (actors' clothes change, then change back), obtuse scripting ("Say, this movie part sounds like the key to everything!") and missed opportunities (why doesn't Reiner parody himself instead of playing it straight?), but even the problems with "Dickie Roberts" are lackluster. Suffice it to say the flick is so false on every level that even the so-called "normal guy" Dickie is dying for a chance to play is a sham. How "normal" is a multi-billionaire obsessed with building the biggest house in the world?

    By making such a lethargic and almost laughless picture, Spade and Weisman squander a great concept for a dark comedy on template-based writing, directing and acting, leaving "Dickie Roberts" with exactly three moments having any kind of comedic payoff: That borderline-dirty catch phrase, an appearance by Emmanuelle "Webster" Lewis in which the diminutive actor feigns heavyweight-champ toughness in a celebrity boxing match (kicking Dickie's butt), and a gag with a champagne cork popping Alyssa Milano (as Dickie's incredibly unlikely girlfriend) in the back of the head.

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