ninth symphony films - movie reviews

DICKIE ROBERTS: FORMER CHILD STAR (2003)


DIRECTOR  -  sam weisman

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  99 minutes

RELEASED  -  5 september 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  paramount pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  dickie roberts

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $20,000,000
dickie roberts: former child star - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from dickie roberts at amazon.com

buy the dvd from dickie roberts at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
a thirty-something former child star hires a foster family to re-create the childhood he never had.




MOVIE FACT:
several real-life washed-up child-stars cameo in this film: emmanuel lewis, danny bonaduce, corey feldman, etc.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from dickie roberts

picture from dickie roberts

picture from dickie roberts



RATING:


three out of four possible stars

It would be easy to compare Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star to any number of second-rate comedies that have been released before it, but that would be negating the actual boost to his theatrical career this film will bring title star, David Spade. His most recent film, the abhorrent Joe Dirt, surprisingly did not completely obliterate his career, and as Spade has demonstrated he has a modicum of comedic talent in the past, it's not surprising to see him improve on Dirt's mess.

But Dickie Roberts certainly isn't a real catch as far as feature filmmaking is concerned. While there are a few "insider" jokes that might not be understood outside of the Los Angeles area (i.e., Hollywood), there is still a lack of real, honest to goodness hilarity in this film. There are quite a few moments when the film actually attempts to make the audience rather teary-eyed and sentimental like a Hallmark card and while those more dramatic scenes are usually believable, the comedy surrounding them doesn't always pack a solid punch.

There are obvious moments when one-liners and sight-gags are thrown into the film where the audience is supposed to laugh, but it's hard to see a laugh actually erupting from any viewer. A slight smile or a mild dose of mirth might be present, but on very few occasions does the film really make you roll in the aisles. And this is exactly the type of film that should have somebody cracking up in every scene. Perhaps it's because the film gets too sentimental too often that the comedy seems more subdued. Or perhaps the script just wasn't filled with enough real humor to liven the picture up.

Perhaps one of the high-points of the film is the large amount of cameos from real-life former child stars. Danny Bonaduce ("Partridge" personality who has recently found steady work as a radio talk-show personality), Dustin Diamond (who played "Screech" on the many incarnations of "Saved by the Bell" for about thirteen years), Corey Feldman (who has made a career as a B-movie actor), and Emmanuel Lewis (most famous for his role in the television show, "Webster," playing the title role) all have small parts in the film and it's an eye-opener to see the once hugely famous stars looking decades older.

All the members of the cast who play fictional roles seem to have been suitably cast, though no particular actor really stands out, save Jon Lovitz, who could probably read the obituaries and make it funny. If laughs are to be had in the film, the largest ones come from Lovitz. Playing the "mother" Dickie Roberts hires to teach him about childhood, Mary McCormack performs the role of "Grace" competently. As do Jenna Boyd and Scott Terra, who play McCormack's children, "Sally" and "Sam." Jenna Boyd in particular has a rather good delivery and a few of her lines are surprisingly crisp, not because of their uniqueness, but because of the smart way she delivers them.

As for the performance of lead star David Spade, no one can compare him to the recent lackluster cinematic efforts of friend Adam Sandler (who helped to produce this film, but hasn't been seen in a decent performance since The Wedding Singer), because Spade actually looks like he's making an effort to become the character he's supposed to be portraying. Getting suitably emotional in the right spots and working as hard as he can to bring out the comedy in others (even though it doesn't always seem to go so successfully), Spade's performance in Dickie is a high-point for his career, even though the film itself isn't blockbuster material. Spade has the ability to be uproarious, he's just not always so in this film. That's probably a combination of a bad script and a lack of appreciable material with which to work.

It's often quite an easy task to bash the screenwriter when a film totters a bit (this one just totters...it doesn't fall down), but the film's failure to really strike the right balance of comedy and drama could stem from some questionable editing as well. Though elements like the cinematography, orchestral score, and editing seem to be based on the usual "standard" techniques rather than any one element standing out as badly done. The long and short of it is that Dickie Roberts is a movie with its heart in the right place, but it's a film that also doesn't pull on those heart-strings hard enough. Nor does it tickle one with enough force. The film is a perfect example of mediocre filmmaking that shouldn't be canned completely, but that is better as a video rental than a big-screen theatrical experience.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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