Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003) / Comedy

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for crude humor, language, drug references and sexual innuendo
Running Time: 99 min.

Cast: David Spade, Mary McCormack, Scott Terry, Jenna Boyd, Craig Bierko, Alyssa Milano, Jon Lovitz, Rob Reiner
Director:  Sam Weisman
Screenplay: Fred Wolf, David Spade

Review published September 6, 2003

The main premise of Dickie Roberts revolves around a former popular child actor who has no marketable skills as an adult, constantly trying to break back into the business, but the doors seem permanently closed for former child stars.  His latest hot tip is that director Rob Reiner is looking for someone to be in his film, and Dickie becomes obsessed with scoring the role, and while Reiner feels he would be perfect for the part, he also thinks he doesn't have the experiences of a normal person to truly deliver a genuinely truthful performance, never really having a typical life.  Dickie has an idea that will land him the role: he will spend 30 days with a real family pretending to be one of the children, and gain the experiences to be able to get the starring role. 

It's a starring vehicle for David Spade (Joe Dirt, Tommy Boy), so automatically you know they aren't shooting for a good movie.  What you do expect are some decent laughs, and of course, a sense of humor is in the funny bone of the beholder.  Your mileage will vary.

As for me, the only memorable parts of this throwaway comedy were the multitudinous cameos from former child stars at the very beginning and end of the film.  If you spliced the first ten and last ten minutes together, you probably could make a classic "Saturday Night Live" skit, and everyone would have been satisfied. 

The problem with Dickie Roberts is what it does in between, or more importantly, what it doesn't do.  It has very flimsy premise, but doesn't do much with it.  Dickie is supposed to live the "normal" childhood he was denied by being in show business, but outside of not being able to drink coffee and riding around in a baby carriage once in a while, much of the time, the plot is largely ignored. 

The middle hour is mostly filler, so devoid of substantive comic bits, that it almost feels like they brainstormed every morning about what might be funny and just rolled film, rather than go with a polished, finished script.  In many movies, these kinds of scenes would probably be found in the "deleted scenes" portions of DVDs, as they are too stale to elicit much in laughs or interest. 

The funniest aspect of the entire film comes from the attempts to turn itself into heartwarming family fare, a very bad misstep because Spade is such a disingenuous comedian, you never can buy that he truly has feelings for anyone without it feeling like some sort of come-on.

My recommendation: wait until video, where the fast forward button comes in handy.  Once Dickie moves in with the family, click that clicker and keep watching the super-fast images go by until the credits roll.  This is strictly for David Spade fans only, who is only one or two more duds away from being dubbed "Former Movie Star."

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo