Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003) *
Directed by Sam Weisman. Written by Fred Wolf & David Spade. Photography, Thomas Ackerman. Editing , Roger Bondelli. Production design, Dina Lipton. Music, Christophe Beck & Waddy Wachtel. Producers, Adam Sandler & Jack Giarraputo . Cast: David Spade (Dickie Roberts), Mary McCormack (Grace Finney), Jon Lovitz (Sidney Wernick), Craig Bierko (George Finney), Alyssa Milano (Cyndi), Scott Terra (Sam Finney), Jenna Boyd (Sally Finney), Rob Reiner (Himself). A Paramount Pictures release. 99 minutes. PG-13.
The movie's opening is fairly amusing. Necessity being the mother of invention, ex-kidstar (in sitcoms of the 1970s) Dickie, now 35 and a nobody, absurdly participates in a "Celebrity" (??) boxing match" and gets immediately K.O-ed by a tiny creature (Emmanuel Lewis.) Problems continue on the way to Los Angeles with his sexy girlfriend. The car breaks down and then burns. "Funny stuff ?" you'll say. Well, sort of, in the tradition of slapstick.
The movie's end, i.e. closing credits, with a parade of many real-life ex-kid-stars or not kid-stars of past decades is OK, at least for older TV maniacs or for some younger ones familiar with re-runs.
What's between the film's start and finale is another story, one that leaves much to be desired. And it heavy-handedly recalls "Billy Madison" which starred , was co-written by Adam Sandler and co-produced by Jack Giarraputo --- see the credits above.
Dickie, who currently supports himself by being a "power-restaurant"'s car-parking valet, frequents other has-beens in poker-games, scours the horizon for present-day stars (Brendan Fraser, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, etc.) who might help him get a movie job, notably in Rob Reiner's movie in pre-production. He finally does meet Reiner who explains to him that the part in question is of a "normal" character - and that he, Dickie, given his past, was never "normal." Notable is the fact that when Dickie was on TV his catch-phrase was "You must be nucking futs!" Oh, the imperishable elegance of humor!
Anyway, to acquire "normalcy" Dickie, who has some money from having published his biography (this stretches plausibility) offers $20,000 to any family willing to "adopt" him for one month. He lands on the home of a greedy car-dealer, his nice-looking wife and their two children. This is the kernel of the movie and you can see for miles that following odd (and stupid) events, the children will bond with Dickie and that love will raise its head between Mom and Dickie. What you also see in said miles is that not a single character in the whole movie is developed or interesting.
Spade has an anonymous face that makes you wish for Jim Carrey's -- even though neither cash nor Carrey could really much improve this film's very dumb script. It drowns you with underwhelming idiocies, half-baked innuendos, vulgar language and noises, belches, coarseness and such, also includes two gay-insulting jokes, stupid physical gags, and pointless un-funnyness. Am I making myself clear?
It pays to see films with the public. For example "my" audience was sparse and chortled very little, except for a group of pre-teens who giggled and laughed quite often. Draw your own conclusions. However -and that's the really scary part-yesterday's news tells of this movie's opening week leading all recent releases at the box-office. And a rapid search of the Internet reveals that "Dickie " viewers (i.e. not professional critics but cinephile "civilians") who liked it way outnumber those who did not. Draw your own conclusions - again.