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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.64%
Worth A Look31.82%
Average: 11.36%
Pretty Bad: 20.45%
Total Crap: 22.73%

2 reviews, 32 user ratings

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Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
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by Erik Childress

"David Spade: Former Adult Star"
1 stars

What’s worse than a movie starring an ex-SNL star these days? A movie with an ex-SNL star playing an ex-child star that only sounds like an ex-SNL character but is really just another ex-good idea for a movie. It’s a great premise for an inspired satire, but in the hands of David Spade and untalented screenwriter Fred Wolf, Dickie Roberts would have a hard time making the cut during the final 15 minutes of SNL during the Anthony Michael Hall year.

The title clues you into Spade's character and the E! True Hollywood Story promisingly introduces us to him and his history. Once he was the star of a popular 70s family show where his catch phrase “nucking futs” made him a household name. As an adult he’s reduced to appearing on Celebrity Boxing in a bout against Emmanuel “Webster” Lewis.

Nearly out of money and stubbornly hanging on to his autobiography until he can scribe a big, comeback ending, Dickie catches wind of a Rob Reiner, Field of Dreams-esque project. He doesn’t understand the script (which I believe would be the case for anyone who thinks this is a laugh riot) but thinks he’d be perfect for it as opposed to that hack Sean Penn. When goodhearted Reiner explains that Dickie’s lack of a real childhood is a fundamental problem in him conjuring up the right emotions, the film takes a disasterous turn into a movie we didn’t come to see. Not that it was very good up to this point.

Dickie hires a family to relive his childhood much the same way Billy Madison went back to grade school. He moves in with them hoping to observe the ways of a normal 10-year old. OK. Now what? The kids don’t like him. The mom (Mary McCormack) objects to this stranger while dad (Craig Bierko) sees it as a money-making scheme for his auto dealership. Take away the expositional 30% and we’re still laugh-free.

Dickie Roberts is so dead in the creative thinking department that it reduces its own humor into the juvenile sitcom territory from where the character sprang forth. Where the film needs bite it gives us a crashing bicycle montage and Spade in a stroller. Had I known mastering the concept of a Slip ‘N’ Slide is the “first step to being a real kid,” I would have stopped chasing ice cream trucks and sending those transmissions to my secret alien world of Gorzon long before.

Spade was always best when playing second fiddle to someone he could ridicule. Dickie Roberts is the result of someone who can dish it out but not thick-skulled enough to come up with any semblance of his Hollywood Minute wit to take back.

Fred Wolf (who also penned Black Sheep, Dirty Work and BEWARE, Steve Martin’s upcoming remake of Cheaper by the Dozen) is so bankrupt as a screenwriter that he’s only clever enough to have mom sing Dickie a song after a nightmare. Why not go the full mile and have Dickie frightened enough to climb into bed with her instead of just vocalizing how hot she is. McCormack is so beautiful and sexy, you wouldn’t be surprised if her own kids didn’t try to get a piece off her.

How about the scene where a rival of the daughter tries out for the cheerleading squad suggestively writhing to Willa Ford’s “I Wanna Be Bad”? All the script can do is to call her a “slut”, when a keen eye would have noticed the parallel between today’s youth growing up too fast and how Hollywood child stars do. Ironically the little “slut” is played by Ashley Edner, who actually “played” a young Britney Spears during her HBO Las Vegas stage performance. When a film like this can’t even recognize its own concept, what possible hope is there of it ever being remotely entertaining? It even has Alyssa Milano, as Dickie’s bitchy ex-girlfriend, who was once a cute kid in Who’s the Boss and is now Maxim magazine’s wet dream of the month. Think people.

Dickie Roberts’ only bright spots come from McCormack’s sunny disposition and the kids nicely played by Scott Terra & Jenna Boyd who are years ahead of Spade in the acting department). It’s idea of a comic payoff is to have a group of washed-up actors We Are the World-it to a song about TV child stars. The gathering of those stars alone for this credit sequence could make for an amusing documentary, except when you examine the list, not all of them were child stars nor were trapped in Television Hell. The Brady Bunch & What’s Happening stars I can understand, but Jeff Conaway? He was 28 when he was on Taxi and singing about pussy wagons in Grease. The two Coreys (Haim & Feldman)? Film stars. David Spade? Soon to be, well, take-your-pick.

When an unreleased Pauly Shore film (“You’ll Never Wiez In This Town Again”) can trump this film in both laughs and star cameos, David Spade should feel lower than his character looking up at Webster. It’s hard to garner sympathy with a Hollywood star believing he can show the suburbanites a thing or two about living. Joe Dirt was moderately more successful in this area and had that added “couple of laughs” quotient I so enjoy in my comedies. Of course, it also had the added benefit of a Christopher Walken cameo. Dickie Roberts has Screech.

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originally posted: 09/05/03 15:01:17
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User Comments

2/09/08 Dan R. Surprisingly entertaining, especially the song at the end 4 stars
3/31/06 Anthony Feor A great movie 4 stars
9/09/05 Tom Burns A funny movie. 4 stars
8/23/05 ES It was a good movie with a nice moral & the bike lesson scenes are hilarious 4 stars
7/25/05 love very very corny and not funny 2 stars
6/14/05 ben funny as Jenna Boyd is great 5 stars
6/18/04 Ryan sweet 4 stars
5/02/04 J Spade is HILARIOUS, but became more of PRICK! *** 4 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt I didn't think it looked that great, but was surprisingly SWEET and HILARIOUS! Glad I saw.. 4 stars
4/15/04 Deb funny movie 4 stars
3/14/04 Jack David Spade was brilliant and he made it funny 4 stars
3/14/04 Sticky the 2nd Numm it was a good movie 4 stars
3/03/04 gray couold have been way better had its moments though 3 stars
2/25/04 Net78 This is typical of a movie that the critics hate - It's great!! I laughed my head off. 4 stars
2/24/04 twodogs Where is the fat guy 2 stars
12/04/03 Alyssa S. LOVED IT 5 stars
11/22/03 Roy R. Pryor Surprisingly entertaining although end scene with dad and bimbo really sucked. 4 stars
11/21/03 Lorraine Not really a bad film at all. Worth a matinee admission. Many touching and funny moments. 3 stars
11/11/03 Jor.Armstrong Any movie where Webster cameos, is worth a look, damn hillarious! 5 stars
10/28/03 Lil Diggity Dawg Loved the SLUT acted, made me horney! 4 stars
10/05/03 Leah I love this movie. It was everything a movie should be! 5 stars
10/05/03 kAyTaY I luvved this movie! 5 stars
9/26/03 Pete .................... 1 stars
9/24/03 JesseL David Spade's worst acting, and that is saying something 1 stars
9/11/03 Double G I only liked to see the former child stars, like Corey Feldman! 3 stars
9/08/03 Chris nothing more than an excuse for hollywood to parade out its long list of child has-beens 1 stars
9/08/03 Barbara Good 4 stars
9/07/03 Lorraine Not really a bad film at all. Worth a matinee admission. Many touching and funny moments. 3 stars
9/07/03 LoudChris Lot's of fun cameos, but not even worth renting. 2 stars
9/07/03 Andrew Oxymoronicly, a very dumb but very deep film 5 stars
9/06/03 Dan Wasn't as bad as the reviews let on. Not good, but it had a few good laughs in it 3 stars
9/06/03 bob mckenzie makes joe dirt look like oscar material 1 stars
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  05-Sep-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-Feb-2004



Directed by
  Sam Weisman

Written by
  David Spade
  Fred Wolf

  David Spade
  Craig Bierko
  Jenna Boyd
  Jon Lovitz
  Alyssa Milano
  Mary McCormack

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