Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star


Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Review

Another ill-conceived mish-mash of puerile humor and disingenuous sap from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison production company, "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" features David Spade as a Hollywood has-been trying to recapture the childhood he never had in an attempt to win a comeback role as a "normal guy."

In what should have been a perfect role for his meager talents and snarky, one-note persona, Spade barely even tries to create a character beyond being crass, uncouth and insecure -- in short, his usual schtick -- and wearing gloves all the time as some short-hand attempt at eccentric paranoid psychoses.

The only effort put toward establishing his credibility as a former child star (beyond flashbacks of a young Dickie repeating the amusingly tasteless catch phrase "This is nucking futs!") is to ply the film with cameos by kiddie actors whose careers have faltered in adulthood. Dickie plays poker with Leif Garrett, Dustin "Screech" Diamond, Corey Feldman, Danny Bonaduce and Barry "Greg Brady" Williams, who places bets using "Brady Bunch" tchotchkes he claims are "worth at least $2 on eBay!"

Bookended with fictional "E! True Hollywood Story" snippets about Dickie that display not a hint of badly-needed irony (didn't these guys see "The Simpsons'" brilliant "VH-1: Behind the Laughter" episode?), the movie's plot revolves around the washed-up actor moving in with a young family to learn about how real people grow up.

But Spade and director Sam Weisman (whose history of bombs includes the "Out-of-Towners" remake and "What's the Worst That Could Happen?") pay only lip service to this concept, mostly through ineffectually staged, stereotypical episodes of childhood. For the balance of the movie, when Spade isn't knocking out transparently self-aware ad-libs or helping the kids (Scott Tera and Jenna Boyd) stand up to bullies and win spots on the pep squad, he's skulking around the pretty, martially neglected mom (Mary McCormack, the only adult actor not phoning it in) in a clumsy attempt at a romantic subplot.

All of this builds up to Dickie's big audition for the lead in a schmaltzy Rob Reiner movie -- an audition Weisman doesn't have the courage to show because Spade doesn't have the talent to pull off the authenticity and emotion he's supposedly learned from his experiences.

I could catalog the movie's ineptitude through examples of its continuity problems (actors' clothes change, then change back), obtuse scripting ("Say, this movie part sounds like the key to everything!") and missed opportunities (why doesn't Reiner parody himself instead of playing it straight?), but even the problems with "Dickie Roberts" are lackluster. Suffice it to say the flick is so false on every level that even the so-called "normal guy" Dickie is dying for a chance to play is a sham. How "normal" is a multi-billionaire obsessed with building the biggest house in the world?

By making such a lethargic and almost laughless picture, Spade and Weisman squander a great concept for a dark comedy on template-based writing, directing and acting, leaving "Dickie Roberts" with exactly three moments having any kind of comedic payoff: That borderline-dirty catch phrase, an appearance by Emmanuelle "Webster" Lewis in which the diminutive actor feigns heavyweight-champ toughness in a celebrity boxing match (kicking Dickie's butt), and a gag with a champagne cork popping Alyssa Milano (as Dickie's incredibly unlikely girlfriend) in the back of the head.

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th September 2003

Box Office USA: $22.7M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Happy Madison Productions, Paramount Pictures


Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 23%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 90

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: as Dickie Roberts, as Grace Finney, as George Finney, as Sam Finney, as Sally Finney, as Referee, as Commentator, as Himself, as Dickie's Corner Man, as Cyndi, as Himself, Joey Diaz as Emmanuel's Entourage, as Emmanuel's Entourage, Brian Clark as Guy in Car, as Himself, Emily Harrison as Girl, as Girl, Alan Blumenfeld as Mr. Rollins, as Sidney Wernick, Sasha Mitchell as Angry Driver, M. Blair Breard as Alcoholic Speaker, as Himself, Kathleen Randazzo as Counselor, Peggy Mannix as Lamaze Group Leader, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Reiner's Secretary, as Himself, as Publisher, as Publisher, Rob Elk as Biker, Retta as Sad Eye Sadie, as Strange Man, as Peggy Roberts, as Himself, Nicholas Schwerin as Young Dickie, Michelle Ruben as Ring Girl, as Mrs. Gertrude, John Kirk as Passing Man with Camera, Alexander D. Slanger as Map Seller, Oliver Kindred as Bully, Brandon de Paul as Bully, Evan Lee Dahl as Bully, Wyatt Smith as Boy in Crowd, Patrick Thomas O'Brien as Mr. Gertrude, Colin Ryan as Gertrude Kid, Christopher Johnson as Boy, Sergei Virovlianski as Boy, Jake Chapman as Boy, as Barbie, as Teacher at Microphone, as Heather Bolan, Kevin Farley as Valet, Miko C. Brando as Valet, Mindy Burbano as News Correspondent, Jann Carl as Herself, Lindsey Dann as Reporter, as Herself, as Brittany, Meghan Faye Gallagher as Janice, as Himself, Fred Berry as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, Tony Dow as Himself, as Herself, Christopher Knights as Himself, as Himself, Mike Lookinland as Himself, as Herself, Eddie Mekka as Himself, Jeremy Miller as Himself, as Herself, Haywood Nelson as Himself, Jay North as Himself, as Himself, Butch Patrick as Himself, Jonathan Loughran as Himself, as Himself, Paul Petersen as Himself, Adam Rich as Himself, Rodney Allen Rippy as Himself, as Herself, Ernest Lee Thomas as Himself, as Herself, as Maitre' D