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Thursday, Sept. 4, 2003 02:20 pm

Movie Review

Dickie Roberts Former Child Star

Dickie Roberts Former Child Star

Dickie Roberts Former Child Star

In his early 30s Dickie Roberts (David Spade) is at the end of his rope. Once the child all America loved, thanks to a wildly successful sitcom and a catch phrase on par with Gary Coleman's "What you talkin' about?", Dickie has hit rock bottom. Now parking cars and appearing in celebrity boxing matches (Emmanuel Lewis of Webster cleans Dickie's clock), he's waiting for a happy ending so he can cash in on his autobiography. Hearing that director Rob Reiner's next film has a role in it that could resurrect his career, Dickie lands a meeting. Unfortunately for Dickie, the part requires someone who had a normal childhood.

To experience the childhood he never had, Dickie runs an ad in search of a normal family he can live with. George (Craig Bierko), a slimy car salesman who doesn't realize how good he has it--he has a nice suburban home, a beautiful, kind wife (Mary McCormack), and two smart, healthy kids (Scott Terra and Jenna Boyd)--jumps at the chance and invites Dickie to move in.

At first, George's family treats Dickie coldly. But Dickie soon dispenses with some bullies who've been picking on George's son, Sam. George's daughter, Sally, comes around when Dickie helps her with cheerleading try-outs. And what does the down-and-out thespian get in return? He learns some bike tricks, hangs out in a tree house, and is taught to use a "Slip and Slide" properly. And when we learn that George's wife, Grace, is lonely, we can see where her relationship with Dickie is headed.

There are laughs, but not nearly enough of them. Especially awkward is the mixture of crude, hard-edged comedy and Capracorn sweetness. The film does prove genuinely amusing when actual former child stars pop up and hobnob with Dickie. A late-night poker game with Barry Williams (Greg from The Brady Bunch), Danny Bonaduce (Danny from The Partridge Family), Corey Feldman (Stand by Me), and Dustin Diamond (Skreech from Saved by the Bell) is very amusing but much too brief.

The film is a groaner at times, but be advised to stay until the credits when former child stars perform a "We Are the World"-style rant.

(Running time 1:39, rated PG-13)
Grade C
Parkway Pointe

What other critics are saying . . .

American Wedding A comic weekend wedding, complete with bachelor party. "The grossest, least funny--and, here's hoping, the last--installment in the American Pie series." (Manhola Dargis, Los Angeles Times) Parkway Pointe, Showplace

Bad Boys II Two cops in Miami uncover some funny business. "Could be the most vile creation to come out of Hollywood since Patch Adams." (Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine) Chuck Koplinski's grade: F. Route 66 Drive In

Bruce Almighty Jim Carrey is granted sovereignty over his hometown by God. "A smart, surprisingly thought-through blockbuster, with a decent grasp of the theological implications of its idea." (Nev Pierce, BBCi) "A fable overwhelmed by special effects and outsized spectacle." (Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times) Esquire

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle The crime-fighting trio returns. "One of the most exhausting good-time movies ever made. As insistent as it is skillful--and it is very skillful--it does all it can to pound you into enjoying yourself." (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times) "Angels is so much like a feature-length cartoon that you may find yourself sitting through the end credits waiting to see who provided the voices for the, if you'll pardon the expression, characters." (Elvis Mitchell, New York Times) Chuck grade: F. Esquire

Freaky Friday Remake of 1976 comedy in which a mother and daughter switch identities. "A funny, shrewd, no-bull family comedy." (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly) Showplace, White Oaks

Freddy Vs. Jason Horror sequels merge. "A tediously ghastly genre pic." (Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer) "The action is lovingly lurid, and the laughs keep coming." (Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle) Chuck's grade: C. Parkway Pointe, Showplace

The Italian Job Remake of 1969 caper movie. "This is a snazzy piece of filmmaking: fluid but wittily syncopated; stylish without appearing to expend undue effort." (David Edelstein, Slate) "Don't expect much more . . . than a pleasant workout." (David Denby, The New Yorker) Parkway Pointe

Jeepers Creepers II A monster stalks high schoolers. "A limp sequel." (Gary Dowell, Dallas Morning News) "The new JC is more consistent and efficient than the first, with classier monster effects, but less compellingly weird." (Bob Campbell, Newark Star-Ledger) Showplace, White Oaks

Johnny English Spy spoof with Rowan Atkinson. "Smug with timely zingers like 'The only thing the French should be allowed to host is an invasion,' the movie's recommended strictly for Bush advisers." (Jessica Winter, Village Voice) "A likeable parody that, while never quite as side-splitting as it thinks it is, still contains a good number of well-worked comic set-pieces." (Neil Smith, BBCi) Chuck's grade: B. Route 66 Drive In

Le Divorce Two American women are taken advantage of in France. "A modern-day Merchant Ivory film, one of those blurry anachronistic duds." (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly). "Ivory's direction is so polished and smooth and full of smart observations that I never found my attention lagging." (Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle) Chuck's grade: C+. White Oaks

Matrix: Reloaded Reality against computer simulations in a future world. "What the film lacks, among other things, is anything truly human. The planed, pristine features of Keanu Reeves seem as computer-generated as the creatures he fights." (Phillip French, The Observer) "A relentless love of movies, junk-food mythology, and thoughtful reimagining of a future endangered by mass consumption . . . makes for a heady and unusual mix." (Elvis Mitchell, New York Times) Chuck's grade: C. Esquire

The Medallion Jackie Chan action. "Chan's normally homegrown stuntwork is replaced by a lot of wire fighting and special effects." (Matt Bonesteel, Washington Post) "A disposable entertainment, redeemed by silliness, exaggeration, and Chan's skill and charm." (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times) Chuck's grade: C. White Oaks

My Boss's Daughter A guy dates his boss's daughter. "It is a genial youth comedy that serves Ashton Kutcher well as a vehicle. That's it. That's all it tries to be." (Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times) "Three-year-old, brain-dead variant of Risky Business." (Lou Lumenick, New York Post) Marty McKee's grade: D+. Parkway Pointe

Open Range Western about cowboys fighting a greedy capitalist. "A ponderous drag." (A.O. Scott, New York Times) "A juicy, character-driven western with a real plot that spins a hypnotic narrative." (Rex Reed, New York Observer) Chuck's grade: B+. Showplace, White Oaks

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johhny Depp is a pirate. "The most high-flying, jaw-dropping special effect of the summer is . . . Johnny Depp." (Ty Burr, Boston Globe) Chuck's grade: B+. Parkway Pointe, Showplace

Seabiscuit The horse, its jockey, and the men who made them famous. "A Depression underdog saga, the movie also is standout alternative programming to an oft-deadly sequel summer." (Mike Clark, USA Today) Chuck's grade: A. Parkway Pointe

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over "Frontrunner for 2003's most mindless and physically offensive movie-going experience." (Nicholas Schager, Slant) "The Spy Kids movies have allowed [director Robert] Rodriguez to exercise his playful muscles, and the new one is no exception." (Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune) Chuck's grade: B+. White Oaks

S.W.A.T. Film version of the old television show. "Best suited for audiences who don't mind being pummeled into submission." (Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune) "Offers up the kind of pleasures that only a summer movie can." (Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post) Parkway Pointe

28 Days Later A virus creates a world of zombies, except for the few people on the run. "Director Danny Boyle, back in Trainspotting form, puts real zip in the zombie step. These buggers snap to at the scent of human flesh and take you down like a stealth bomber." (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) "A gory, depressing affair that bears an ultra-Darwinian message in its blood-stained hands." (Philip French, The Observer) Chuck's grade: C. Esquire

Uptown Girls Snobby young woman takes care of cute little girl. "There's nothing wrong with Uptown Girls that not seeing it won't fix." (Stephen Hunter, Washington Post). "[A] standard variation of the princess myth." (Stephen Holden, New York Times) Showplace

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