A high school slacker who's rejected by every school he applies to opts to create his own institution of higher learning, the South Harmon Institute of Technology, on a rundown piece of property near his hometown.
TV child star of the '70s, Dickie Roberts is now 35 and parking cars. Craving to regain the spotlight, he auditions for a role of a normal guy, but the director quickly sees he is anything but normal. Desperate to win the part, Dickie hires a family to help him replay his childhood and assume the identity of an average, everyday kid. Several folk who are also involved in Dickie's special world include: Sidney, Dickie's longtime friend and agent; Cyndi, his on-again, off-again girlfriend; Peggy, Dickie's real mother; George, Dickie's adopted father figure; and Grace, his adopted mother figure. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
A comedy devoid of any laughs is never a good thing
I remember it was in late 2004 when I first discovered that this 2003 comedy, starring David Spade, existed. It had been over a year since its theatrical release, but late 2004 was when I came across some Internet discussions about it, and it seemed that the film had faced a lot of criticism. I was obviously in no hurry to see it, since it's been over five years since then and I finally rented it to watch for the first time this month. The only other movies I had seen in which Spade played a starring role were "Tommy Boy" and "Black Sheep", both co-starring Chris Farley. "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" was the first film I saw starring Spade without Farley, made years after Farley's death. As much as many people like this movie, I can't say I'm one of them.
In the 1970's, Dickie Roberts was a child star who was famous for his role in a popular sitcom. However, this sitcom eventually lost popularity and was cancelled. Dickie was then abandoned by his mother and his acting career was over. The former child star is now in his thirties, working as a car parking valet, and he has become very unpopular. When he hears that Rob Reiner will soon be making a new movie called "Mr. Blake's Backyard", Dickie is convinced that getting a part in it will be a great opportunity for a comeback. After a bit of a struggle to get an audition, he finally gets to meet the filmmaker, who tells him that he is not suited for this role, as he didn't have a real childhood and doesn't know what it means to be normal. Since Reiner won't be casting right away, the washed-up actor decides to look for a family to live with for a while, so he can gain the right experience for the role.
The film starts with an introduction to the Dickie Roberts character and his past. I was already finding it unfunny at this point, only smiling VERY slightly during the part with his mother talking about how he auditioned for the role of Pippi Longstocking. After this sequence, we see David Spade's character get clobbered in a boxing match, and I could tell this part was supposed to make me laugh, but it failed miserably. Another lame scene follows, with Dickie and his girlfriend arguing after the match (her calling him a "puss" and such). Another memorably unfunny scene is Dickie trying to act like a six year old getting a bike for Christmas. Spade's antics can be pretty lame, and I didn't care much for his character here. I did smile at times, such as the part where Dickie thinks the Finney kids (in the family he moves in with) are frightened by his story about the cancelled sitcom when it's actually something else, and part of what the protagonist says while taunting bullies (though I didn't feel like that particular part should have made me smile, and I certainly didn't like watching the bullies before he comes along), but the smiles were very rare, and I never actually laughed. The story is also kind of dull, though it can be touching towards the end, and if it hadn't been for that, I would probably be giving "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" a 4/10.
Before I watched this movie, I had low expectations. I had a feeling it was going to be fairly lame, and probably started having this feeling years before I actually saw the film. I guess I'm not a hardcore David Spade fan. Before seeing "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star", I had seen him in those two films with Chris Farley, and had also seen "Coneheads", in which he plays a smaller part, but to me, he didn't stand out in any of these. I'm not exactly sure what I really think of him as a comedian. By the time I saw him in this 2003 comedy, I hadn't seen him in anything else for a while, so I don't know how to compare his performances. Well, even if I didn't like this movie, it is certainly not a terrible comedy, and unlike some films I've seen and disliked, I'm not exactly puzzled by the appeal of this one. If you watch it, I'm sure it will help if you're a true David Spade fan. If you're not, then you MIGHT want to skip it.
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