Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

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Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: David Spade, Ashley Edner, Scott Terra, Willie Aames, Craig Bierko
Director: Sam Weisman

The ever-amenable David Spade gets a chance to show off not only his well known comedic talents but also the fact that he can act in his latest movie, co-written with his fellow former SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE star, Fred Wolf.

Spade plays Dickie Roberts, adored by the American public in a TV Sitcom until the age of 6, by which time he has become a has-been. Dickie is now a 35 year-old parking valet, obsessed with getting back into the spotlight. The fact that he’ll do anything is an understatement. A desperate loser with a tragic family history, he elicits the sympathy of a kind Brendan Fraser (in a small cameo), who tells him about a part in a Rob Reiner movie. Dickie is convinced that it’s meant for him and wangles an audition, but is told gently by Reiner that because he missed out on his childhood, he’s not normal enough for the part.

Devastated, Dickie begins “operation redo childhood”, where he pays a family to take him in and help him re-live his childhood. So with the help of George and Grace Finney, and their kids Sam and Sally, he begins his mission.

Directed by Sam Weisman, (GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE) this comedy has the talented Spade on top form, but it’s a shame that the film doesn’t make the most of his talents. The situations and set pieces are rather stilted and cliche and although there are some good lines and likeable characters, what lets Spade down is the movie’s uninspired and predictable execution. This family film is pleasant enough to sit through but for all its heartwarming theme, it’s nothing original and it feels watered down like a bunch of wilting daffodils. It is given depth only by Spade’s performance and the peppering of former Hollywood child stars. It is successful in garnering sympathy for them so if you go and see this film do make sure you stay for the closing credits, and have great fun spotting a multitude of Hollywood’s former darlings (punch up with Gary Coleman from DIFF’RENT STROKES, anyone?) throughout the movie.

3 out of 6 stars