Like Mike

Like Mike


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Mike is Michael Jordan. Calvin (Lil' Bow Wow) is an orphan, who picks a pair of worn trainers from a box of charity goods. They have the initials MJ on them and, surprisingly, fit his skinny feet. When he wears them, something funny/wonderful takes place. He can play basketball like Mike.

Hang on one cotton pickin' minute. That's what happened in There's Only One Jimmy Grimble, a grittier low budget Brit flick from 2000, with Robert Carlyle and Lewis McKenzie, except with Jimmy it was footie boots.

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The Hollywood take on magic sporting footwear is the cinematic equivalent of fast food - easily digestible, too sweet, utterly predictable, well packaged, bland and bad for you. Half the fun of a movie like Home Alone is to watch the crooks getting crocked. It's push button satisfaction. Same here.

There is hope, however. Crispin Glover plays the principal at the orphanage and he's guaranteed to go over the top. Also, Robert Forster (Oscar nominee for Jackie Brown) is coach for The Knights, the local top league team, and Eugene Levy (Jason Biggs's dad in American Pie) is marketing director, or whatever you call those guys who whip up enthusiasm with PR gimmicks.

The story could write itself: "He's lean, he's mean, he's 13." That's Calvin. At the orphanage, bullies pick on him and his pals. Nothing nasty. He is brought into The Knight's team, as a mascot, and given the chance to play, because there's no-one on the bench at the time, and, of course, scores a mass of goals - or is it baskets?

Three questions: will The Knights win the playoffs? Will someone steal his sneakers before the big game? Is your heart in your mouth?

Three good things: with a name like Lil' Bow Wow, he can't be an ordinary kid. Morris Chestnut impresses, as The Knights star performer, who is given the role of nanny by the coach, which he resents, until much later, after the sugar kicks in and he learns to love a little. For basketball fans, the games are well choreographed.

Three bad things: Glover is not given his head, Forster's too serious and Levy appears as a clown in the jack-in-the-box. Sentiment overloads, especially when Chestnut's estranged dad is dragged out of mothballs. For basketball fans, this must be like Harry Potter scoring a ton against the Aussies at Lords.

Reviewed on: 10 Dec 2002
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A boy finds a pair of trainers that give him the power to play basketball like Michael Jordan.
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Director: John Schultz

Writer: Michael Elliot, Jordan Moffet

Starring: Lil' Bow Wow, Morris Chestnut, Jonathan Lipnicki, Brenda Song, Crispin Glover, Robert Forster, Anne Meara, Jesse Plemons, Julius Ritter, Eugene Levy

Year: 2002

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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