Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

To British audiences, David Spade's comedic skills are a mystery. In the role of Dickie Roberts, former child star, he displays a baffling array of character defects, none of which are remotely funny.

The plot of this debilitating piece of Hollywood introspection is mind-numbingly purile. Dickie used to be famous as the kid in a popular TV series, not unlike The Brady Bunch, but when his voice broke no one wanted to know.

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He ends up parking cars at a posh L.A restaurant, still considering himself a star. His dumb and dumberer agent, played by Jon Lovitz, another ex-Saturday Night Live regular, whose comic talent is based on his dislikability, can't do a thing for him - can't do a thing for himself, either.

Dickie hears from a friend that Rob Reiner is auditioning for his new movie and so blags his way in, but Reiner tells him that he lacks the sinsibility for the lead role, because he missed out on childhood and doesn't understand what growing up was all about and so isn't exactly normal.

Dickie puts an ad in the paper for a family for a month for a fee. He wants to learn to be a child and so is taken in by a middle-class suburban household - Mom (Mary McCormack), Dad, Sam and Sally.

He idolises Mom, thinks Dad is a jerk - he works all the time and doesn't see them - and has fun with Sam and Sally, who, in teen terms, are uncool and goody-two. The attempt at humour comes from Dickie acting spoilt baby bunting in a desperately dull group of people, who respond with muted outrage, or sentimental affection.

Spade lacks charm to such a degree that he becomes obnoxious. Empathy with The Fool is the essence of comedy and there is none of that here.

What remains is the story, which might have a grain of satire in the heels of its concept. The subject matter - whatever happened to so-and-so? - can only be of interest to celebrity junkies, or Hollwood gossip rats.

Spade persuaded a number of former TV child stars to play cameo roles in the movie. As an in-joke, this has nudge appeal, but for the out crowd it means nothing. Who are these people? Who cares? What is Dickie Roberts, but living proof that arrested developement causes sensory deprivation?

The co-producer of the film is Adam Sandler. Surprise NOT!

Reviewed on: 19 Feb 2004
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David Spade is a grown man who hires a family to teach him how to be a child.
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Director: Sam Weisman

Writer: Fred Wolf, David Spade

Starring: David Spade, Mary McCormack, Jon Lovitz, Craig Bierko, Alyssa Milano, Scott Terra, Jenna Boyd, Rob Reiner

Year: 2003

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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