Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

Review Date:
Director: Sam Weisman
Writer: David Spade, Fred Wolf
Producers: Jack Giarraputo
David Spade
Mary McCormack
Craig Bierko
A former child TV star is all growns up but can no longer get himself any acting jobs in the business. Awaiting his next break, he parks cars for a fancy Hollywood eatery, until he hears about a huge part in Rob Reiner’s next movie. Jazzed to get the role, Dickie decides to go through a “real childhood” at the age of 35, in order to help himself better understand the part in the film. Tomfoolery ensues.
I don’t think anyone ever expects all that much from any of the Happy Madison character-title flicks (BILLY MADISON, DEUCE BIGALOW, JOE DIRT, etc…), but one thing they usually do expect is a unique character (check!), a unique circumstance (check!) and plenty of laughs upon laughs upon laughs (hold that last check!) Unlike most of Sandler’s own vehicles, DICKIE ROBERTS barely registers on the laugh-o-meter, and despite some early cameos and cute situations involving Dickie, his childhood fame and his current life, things ultimately turn lame when he moves in with a “normal” family and the focus is less on his antics, than it is on the sentimental, the kids and the many unfunny situational set pieces (the only one that made me laugh was the one in which Spade kept flying into things on his bike…then again…that’s probably not funny to a lot of other people) Otherwise, this movie tosses a couple of cool tunes down your throat, about two or three very funny lines (“What does your mom have in the backyard? A g-string?”), but generally doesn’t do much more than drag along as people like Jon Lovitz and Alyssa Milano embarrass themselves (although Milano looked super-hot and provided me with just enough “material” for later on that night) Mary McCormack also inserted some surprisingly straight acting into the film, which didn’t seem to fit initially, but ultimately made me appreciate a sminge of the typical sentimentality that Sandler, Schneider and Spade try to pass off in all their works (you guys have to remember that we don’t go to see your movies because we want to get deeply involved with your character’s inner-psyche…we go to laugh, so concentrate more on that and less on the sense of abandonment of your characters’, their parental resentment issues, etc…)

Other than that, expect the obvious cameos by many of the real-life down-and-out former child stars here (including a fat Emmanuelle Lewis, a fat Corey Haim, a fat Charlene Tilton, etc…), all of whom seem to have enough of a sense of humor to poke fun at themselves (or just really, really, really need the money!) An end-credits sing-a-long a la “We Are the World” featuring the entire pack of has-beens also won me over with some funny lyrics and a catchy tune. Is the film worth paying good money to see in theaters? Absolutely not! Many times, it even felt like the screenplay was being written as they went, with very few zingers striking gold, and many dry and humorless patches throughout (and is there any real reason to concentrate on the un-cute and un-interesting kids during a good chunk of the film instead of the lead character’s “goofy” adventures?) The film might be semi-recommendable for fans of Spade, but even then, only on video/dvd, and even then, only if you’re looking to kill an evening with overly-sentimental slop, earmarked with a couple of chuckles. Otherwise, at over 100 minutes, I wasn’t impressed by this latest addition to the former SNLers’ comedic compilations, and would even go as far as to ask each of them (yes, that includes Schneider and Sandler) to take a year off between films, because their laughs-to-lame-jokes ratio is getting lower and lower with each time at bat. We ain’t gonna keep shelling out the dough so that you could keep your buddies working, guys. Make me laugh, dammit! More nuckin’ futs!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian