Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
Grade: B-
Year: 2003
Director: Sam Weisman
Writers: Fred Wolf & David Spade
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

I walked into "Dickie Roberts" expecting a horrible movie. I wanted to hate it as I usually do movies starring former SNL personalities. But I found myself in a frightening situation. Despite the film's sheer stupidity, I was actually laughing and I was laughing hard.

The movie opens with a documentary-style presentation of "E! True Hollywood Stories" featuring Dickie Roberts, a former child star now washed out and forgotten. The scene is hilarious, as we see an image of Dickey's pregnant mom wearing a shirt that says "I'm With Stupid" with the arrow pointing to her stomach. In one hand is a lit cigarette and in the other is a bottle of whisky. Thrown into the spotlight at a young age, Dickie became known for small one-liners until his show eventually got cancelled. At about that time, his mother left him. He was about seven.

Dickie (David Spade), roughly 35-years-old now, is a car valet and plays poker with other former child stars, most of whom you'll recognize as they're playing themselves. The group includes "Save by the Bell's" Dustin Diamond, "The Brady Bunch's" Barry Williams, Leif Garrett and Corey Feldman. They sit around together and reminisce of the good old days now far behind them.

Dickie soon hears about the lead in a new Rob Reiner movie, although his agent Sidney (Jon Lovitz) is skeptical. After all, the last gig Sidney could book for him was an appearance on "Celebrity Boxing" where Dickie got tooled by Emmanuel Lewis, a direct reference to the other former stars who really did humiliate themselves on FOX'S "Celebrity Boxing."

Nonetheless, Dickie is determined to get the part and schedules a meeting with Reiner through Brendan Fraser (himself). Reiner is delighted to meet with Dickie, but sadly informs him that he is unfitting for the part because he isn't "a human" having missed out on a real childhood. The test: Dickie is told to pretend he's a young child skulking down the stairs Christmas morning. Not easy for Dickie who shows no emotion when he sees the presents under the tree. Reiner can only frown.

The good news is that Reiner isn't casting the part for another few weeks, so Dickie has time to learn what it was like to be a child. The plan: Hire a family to allow him to move in and become one of their own. The man of the winning family is George Finney (Craig Bierko), an advertiser who has dirty plans to exploit Dickie in the future. Unsuspecting of course is George's beautiful wife Grace (Mary McCormack). The two children in the lovely household are appropriately named Sam and Salley (Scott Tessa and Jenna Boyd). Dickie plans to live with the family for about a month so he can tryout for the Reiner movie.

If you're still reading this review then it means that even you have a slight interest or a burning curiosity to see it. And you should, it's the only decent comedy out now if you don't include "Matchstick Men." And the plot of "Dickie Roberts" is bad, but the movie isn't about Dickie becoming a born-again actor. We don't care if he succeeds, we just laugh at the outcome of the scene when Dickey and the Finney's minus George try to hide the neighbor's dead pet that the dog must have gotten a hold of.

Yes it's formulaic as we know in the real world Dickie would have never been able to have Cyndi (Alyssa Milano) as his girlfriend, who of course decides to leave him when the plot requires us to sympathize. Of course we know Dickie won't be accepted by the two children of the family until he can prove himself (Sam gets bullied at school and Salley has cheerleading tryouts coming up and needs a routine to impress).

Dickie is accepted quickly which is a good thing because from day one he started sleeping in the same room as the kids. Never mind that Sam and Salley share a room and live in a--I guess--six bedroom, the plot requires them to all be in the same room so they can bond. Just before falling asleep, Dickie informs his siblings, "By the way, your mom's really hot." Sam and Salley are disgusted, but Dickie shrugs, "What? They are! I can't help it. She's my mom too but I somehow find a way to deal with it"

What I especially like about the film is that it's bold. I gratefully credit writers Fred Wolf and David Spade for a concept that works on a PG-13 level and doesn't stoop down to toilet humor levels. And I credit director Sam Weisman for taking the bold screenplay and actually running with it. I describe so in the next paragraph:

At cheerleading tryouts, Salley and Dickie observe another girl, Heather (Ashley Edner), performing in front of the judges. Described by Salley as a "slut," this 11-year-old in tight clothes performs Willa Ford's "I Wanna Be Bad" in an uncomfortably sexy manner. The judges looked shocked, and frankly so did I and the rest of the audience. Personally I didn't know what to make of it, and then in the background amongst the horrified expressions we see Heather's father gleefully giving her the two-thumbs up. At that point I simply burst out laughing thinking to myself how horrible that scene was. But as I've just shamefully confessed, I was laughing.

The ending isn't anything spectacular but the closing credits sequence is. As the credits roll the camera cuts to a large group of old-stars from the movie and other has-beens from film and television. In a song that sounds too much like "We Are the World," the former stars gently rock back and forth singing their hearts out. And you can tell that they must have had a blast during the reunion, as I like to believe it was many years since they last saw each other if not for the first time ever, and it was sort of touching. Either I'm just sentimental like that, or I must have unconsciously forced myself to enjoy a movie featuring former stars who could only land a role in a movie titled "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star."

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Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Contact Editor: Scott Spicciati