Like Mike (2002) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring: Lil’ Bow Wow, Morris Chestnut, Jonathan Lipnicki, Crispin Glover, Eugene Levy
Director: John Schultz

It’s a simple storyline and it’s been done so many times before where a disadvantaged child, in this case a teenage boy, strives to fulfil his dream – but LIKE MIKE is a very funny and enjoyable movie to watch.

Calvin Cambridge (Lil’ Bow Wow), Murph (Jonathan Lipnicki) and Reg (Brenda Song) are best friends at the orphanage where they live, all helping and looking out for each other. Calvin has a passion for basketball and dreams of being a famous professional basketball player. He sets the ball in motion when, while selling sweets outside the Knights’ (the basketball team he supports) stadium, he spies Coach Wagner (Robert Forster) getting into his car after another disastrous match for the team. Acting on impulse he runs over to the coach and questions him on the team’s performance and offers his own advice. Coach Wagner listens and takes a shine to Calvin inviting him and some friends to their next match.

Meanwhile back at the orphanage Sister Theresa (Anne Meara) arrives with some handouts and Calvin ends up with a pair of sneakers whose former owner has the initials ‘MJ’. Questioning Sister Theresa on their origin he is convinced they used to belong to Michael Jordan, a famous basketball player. After a setback he eventually puts them on and his basketball skills magically improve overnight.

Match day arrives and Calvin watches with his friends, this time in the stadium, as the Knights lose another game. However Calvin wins an after match seat number lottery entitling him to play three shots, on the spot, against basketball star Tracey Reynolds (Morris Chestnut, TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME). He feels the magic emanating from the sneakers and starts playing basketball to an unbelievably high standard not only winning $1000 in prize money but also catching the attention of Coach Wagner and the Knights’ owner (Eugene Levy). Suddenly the world is at his feet or sneakers!

The movie is well acted particularly by Morris Chestnut and Lil’ Bow Vow, already a hip-hop sensation and making his acting feature debut. Jonathan Lipnicki delivers, as always – he’s such a talented actor even though still young. The real life baseball players taking part certainly strut their stuff with some amazing moves that makes it look oh so easy – until you try.

The movie flows well and is carried along by some very comical sequences delivered superbly by Morris Chestnut, Lil’ Bow Wow and Eugene Levy (of AMERICAN PIE fame). The powerful magic of the sneakers and the moves they create that Calvin has to keep up with are particularly hilarious and meant to be so.

LIKE MIKE is definitely a feel good movie, but it will have the kids laughing in their seats.

4 out of 6 stars