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Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/02/2004

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

That rare thing: a David Spade movie that’s actually –whisper it- rather good, thanks to some amusing gags and solid supporting work by a host of genuine former child stars.

Since we are mercifully spared the bloated US TV “institution” that is Saturday Night Live, most UK cinema-goers are unlikely to have heard of David Spade and are therefore blissfully unfamiliar with the concept of “A David Spade Movie”.

This is also because most of them go – thankfully - straight to video – Lost and Found, anyone? The Adventures of Joe Dirt? No? In fact, his best-known role to date is probably the lead vocal duties on The Emperor’s New Groove. So it comes as something of a surprise to discover that his latest film is actually, relatively, rather good – not that it’ll make you want to rush out and rent his other movies or anything.

This Is Nucking Futs

Spade plays Dickie Roberts, a 35 year old out of work actor and former child star on a show called “The Glimmer Gang” (think The Brady Bunch), where his catchphrase was “This is nucking futs!” With his post-show career never having taken off, he’s reduced to things like Celebrity Boxing matches and working as a valet, despite the tireless efforts of his manager, Jon Lovitz.

Unsurprisingly, when a chance to audition for a major role in Rob Reiner’s new film comes up, Dickie seizes it with both hands. Unfortunately, Reiner (playing himself) tells Dickie that he isn’t “normal” enough for the part, since he never had a normal childhood. Not to be deterred, however, Dickie hires a family (Craig Bierko, Mary McCormack, Scott Terra and Jenna Boyd) willing to treat him like a child for a few months…

Genuinely Sweet

It has to be said – the problem with most David Spade movies is Spade himself: his characters just aren’t usually that funny or even all that likeable. Fortunately this isn’t true of Dickie and the scenes where he bonds with both the children and McCormack are genuinely sweet, even if they do repeat the same “No-one ever said that to me before” bit about three times.

It’s fair to say that not all the jokes or set-pieces work, but there are a number of good gags and ultimately the film stands up, thanks to excellent support work from both rising child stars Scott Terra (Daredevil, Eight Legged Freaks) and Jenna Boyd (The Missing), as well as McCormack and a host of genuine former child stars (Corey Feldman, Greg from The Brady Bunch etc) gamely playing themselves – make sure you stick around for the final credits song for a glimpse of Gary “Arnold from Diff’rent Strokes” Coleman.

In short, Dickie Roberts is genuinely sweet, entirely watchable movie that’s a lot funnier than the average Hollywood ‘comedy’ (see Haunted Mansion or Cheaper By The Dozen, or rather, don’t) and isn’t afraid to make several jokes at its own expense, including, perhaps, the nagging feeling that Spade himself is as much in need of a hit as Dickie is. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 25/07/2014 18:44
 

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