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Like Mike will most likely be a charmer for kids between the ages of five and ten, to which this movie is naturally targeted towards. As someone speaking well outside of that demographic, it's a tiresome hour and a half. Considering all the refreshing films aimed at this sort of demographic, both live action and animated, to have children suspend reality and pause the real world for Like Mike is an unnecessary move.
Is the film harmful? Not in the slightest. To its respect, it is genial and kind, throughout most of its runtime (Despite the total 180 the film takes in a scene where a goon threatens to burn a young kid's only picture of his biological family if he doesn't confess to where Calvin's sneakers are at). But is it particularly ideal for a growing child? I don't believe so. The film treats the real world as if clichés are part of life and how quickly a wholesome story gets opted for one of almost no realism beyond the character's names. If that's what you're looking for, pay no mind to me.
The story centers around Calvin Coolidge (Lil' Bow Wow), a young orphan who comes in contact with a magical pair of Nike sneakers with the ambiguous initials "MJ" on them. Well, the only "MJ" Calvin knows is Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls all-star, so that's who it must be. We never do get a straight answer, but I guess a clever assumption is good enough.
Calvin realizes that whenever he puts on the shoes, he becomes amazing at basketball. In a very contrived scene where Calvin's ticket number is called when he is lucky enough to go to a basketball game, he winds up beating the own player at his game by scoring three shots on the man.
So, he becomes contracted to the Minnesota Timberwolves and starts to befriend their player, Tracy Reynolds (Morris Chestnut), who clearly doesn't want to be befriended. He is an introverted soul, who loves random hookups and hates the thought of seeing any member of his family again, let alone starting his own. When Calvin, Tracy, and the rest of the Timberwolves are not on the court, Calvin tries to get direct access to Tracy's heart.
The idea of a young orphan becoming a sports star just because of a pair of sneakers is a little more than far-fetched. I suppose it's an ode to those Nike ads from back in the day that if unsuspecting young-ins bought clothing endorsed by this sports star they would be able to play like that specific star. Speaking of ads, don't even get me started on the shameless way this film is acting as a vehicle for the NBA.
We end on a schmaltzy cookie-cutter note and learn next to nothing throughout this whole experience. Like Mike is a child's fantasy come to life, from what I can assume. Personally, I' d rather see my child act out his own unique fantasies than pay money to see Hollywood's take on them. Seems a lot healthier for the both of us.
Starring: Lil' Bow Wow, Jonathan Lipnicki, Morris Chestnut, Robert Forster, Crispin Glover, and Eugene Levy. Directed by: John Schultz.
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