Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is a 2003 American comedy film directed by Sam Weisman and starring David Spade (who also co-wrote the film with Fred Wolf), Mary McCormack, Jon Lovitz, Craig Bierko, Alyssa Milano, and Rob Reiner.[2] Spade portrays a child actor who fell into obscurity as an adult and who attempts to revive his career by getting a part in Rob Reiner's next film. In addition, the movie shows Dickie interacting with numerous former child stars, played by over two dozen actual former stars lampooning their careers, such as Leif Garrett, Barry Williams, Corey Feldman, Emannuel Lewis, Dustin Diamond, and Danny Bonaduce.

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
Dickie Roberts Former Child Star film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySam Weisman
Written byFred Wolf
David Spade
Produced byAdam Sandler
Jack Giarraputo
Starring
CinematographyThomas E. Ackerman
Edited byRoger Bondelli
Music byChristophe Beck
Waddy Wachtel
Production
company
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • September 5, 2003 (2003-09-05)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$17 million[1]
Box office$23.7 million[1]

PlotEdit

Dickie Roberts (Nicholas Schwerin) is a very young actor who shot to fame on a 1970s television sitcom called The Glimmer Gang with his spoonerism catchphrase "This is Nucking Futs!". His career subsequently halted in the years following the show's cancellation, and unable to find another acting gig due to his eccentric habits, a now older Dickie (David Spade) has been reduced to parking cars at a Morton's restaurant and appearing on Celebrity Boxing, where he suffers a humiliating first-round defeat to Emmanuel Lewis. In the public eye and to his girlfriend Cyndi (Alyssa Milano), who apparently leaves him during a roadside incident, Dickie is a washed-up loser.

After talking to his old friend Leif Garrett, Dickie is absolutely convinced that a new Rob Reiner movie in the works titled Mr. Blake's Backyard will be his comeback vehicle. Even after his agent Sidney Wermack (Jon Lovitz) fails to land him an audition, Dickie persists. While on duty at Morton's, he joyrides in a customer's vehicle and drops into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where he pesters Tom Arnold to connect him with Reiner. After he is kicked out because he's not an alcoholic, Dickie fakes being drunk and mistakingly wanders into a Lamaze class which Brendan Fraser is taking with his wife. Fraser finds Dickie's entrance to the class hilarious and ridiculous, and agrees to help him out by calling Reiner on his behalf.

Reiner bluntly tells Dickie that the part is not within his abilities because it requires knowing how a regular person lives. Unfortunately, Dickie never had a good life; he grew up in the limelight, and then his emotionally abusive mother Peggy (Doris Roberts) abandoned him once he stopped earning money. Desperate to prove to Reiner that he is right for the part, Dickie manages to sell his raunchy autobiography for $30,000. With the money, he pays a family to "adopt" him for a month so he can properly understand the role.

Once Dickie hires his "family", things get off to a rocky start, as George (Craig Bierko), the bread-winning father, insists that they need the money, despite the rightful reservations of the other family members. Grace (Mary McCormack), the mother, comes to pity their new "son" and gradually provides him with surrogate guidance. Dickie begins to realize a lesson he read in the script for Mr. Blake's Backyard: "Sometimes all of the things you need are in your own backyard". Dickie learns much about himself and life in general, and he begins to act less immature and more as a third parent. He helps the family's son Sam (Scott Terra) secure a date and helps the daughter Sally (Jenna Boyd) join the pep squad. Cyndi returns to him and he even earns the admiration of George, who turns out to be inept on the subject of fidelity.

Sidney lands an audition for Dickie by donating one of his kidneys to Reiner after the director is savagely beaten by a psychotic driver (Sasha Mitchell) whom Dickie provoked while unknowingly driving Reiner's vehicle. Dickie is awarded the part, proving that "In Hollywood, sometimes your dreams can come true...again". After learning that George abandoned his family and ran off with Cyndi, Dickie gives up the part and decides to take George's place so he can be with the family he has come to love as his own. An E! True Hollywood Story story on Dickie, aired not long after, reveals that Dickie has since started his own sitcom starring all of his old friends, as well as his new family (including Grace, whom he has married).

The closing credits are a send-up on Relief albums listed as "To help former child stars" and includes many references to old television sitcoms where Dickie, Leif, their mutual friends, Florence Henderson, Marion Ross, and other former very young stars sing "Child Stars on Your Television".

CastEdit

Former child star cameosEdit

  • Willie Aames as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Fred Berry as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Danny Bonaduce as himself, he appears as a friend of Dickie.
  • Todd Bridges as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Gary Coleman as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Jeff Conaway as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Dustin Diamond as himself, he appears as a friend of Dickie.
  • Tony Dow as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Corey Feldman as himself, he appears as a friend of Dickie.
  • Leif Garrett as himself, he appears as a friend of Dickie.
  • Corey Haim as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song where he sings alongside Corey Feldman.
  • Christopher Knight as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Emmanuel Lewis as himself, he pairs off against Dickie in Celebrity Boxing.
  • Barry Livingston as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Mike Lookinland as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Maureen McCormick as herself, she partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Eddie Mekka as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Jeremy Miller as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Erin Moran as herself, she partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Haywood Nelson as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Jay North as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Ron Palillo as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Butch Patrick as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Paul Petersen as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" songs.
  • Adam Rich as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Rodney Allen Rippy as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Ernest Lee Thomas as himself, he partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Charlene Tilton as herself, she partakes in the "Child Stars on Your Television" song.
  • Barry Williams as himself, he appears as a friend of Dickie who doubts that Brendan Fraser would hook him up with Rob Reiner.

ProductionEdit

Fred Wolf and David Spade originally wrote a skit in the '90s for Saturday Night Live about a child star rampage, spoofing The Silence of the Lambs, for when Macaulay Culkin was hosting, but it was cut. The idea was later pitched to The WB, but they turned it down. It was eventually totally rewritten and turned into this movie, originally written as a dark comedy with more references to drug use by child stars.

Sally's "Brick wall, waterfall" routine was something Jenna Boyd was doing on the set between takes. The filmmakers liked it and worked it into the script – twice.

The crew built an actual treehouse in the back yard of the house used for the exterior scenes of the Finney's home. The real homeowners liked it so much, they requested that the producers to leave it up after filming.

LawsuitEdit

Paramount Pictures was sued for trademark infringement and dilution after this film was released. Paramount had not requested permission from Wham-O for using the Slip 'n Slide in this movie.[3] The lawsuit claimed that the movie, which portrayed unsafe use of a Slip 'n Slide, might encourage others to use it in an unsafe manner.[4] The lawsuit was dismissed by a California court.[5]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star earned $6.7 million on its opening weekend.[1] It went on to gross a worldwide total of $23.7 million against a production budget of $17 million.[1]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 22% based on reviews from 121 critics. The sites consensus is: "A so-so David Spade comedy with a few laughs."[6] On Metacritic the film has a score of 36% based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[7]Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B" on scale of A to F.[8]

While critics generally agreed that the premise had potential and appreciated the involvement of actual former child stars, reactions to Spade's humor were mixed, and the attempts to make the film genuinely uplifting and sentimental in its second half were seen as contrived and unnecessary. Roger Ebert gave the movie two-out-of-four stars, noting "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star has a premise that would be catnip for Steve Martin or Jim Carrey, but David Spade (who, to be fair, came up with the premise) casts a pall of smarmy sincerity over the material", but added Lovitz was "pitch perfect" and the cameo appearances were enjoyable.[9] Joe Leydon of Variety wrote: "Offers a largely satisfying mix of broad slapstick, seriocomic sentimentality and mostly amusing satirical thrusts at easy targets."[10] Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter gave it a mixed review: "Generally succeeds -- in hit-and-miss fashion -- at bridging the gap between unlikable jerk and misunderstood good guy, though it's still something of a leap to leading-man territory."[11]

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review: "This sleek and sunny comedy is an all-too-rare example of smart and inventive Hollywood filmmaking."[12] Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle gave it a positive review, praising the writing saying the film "rises above mediocrity with a steady stream of offbeat humor, as writers Spade and Fred Wolf stubbornly avoid the easy jokes throughout the film." He is also positive about the many cameos and says the film "is elevated from decent to good in the last five minutes, during a hilarious "We Are the World"-style medley among child actors and their parents."[13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003) - Financial Information". The Numbers (website).
  2. ^ "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  3. ^ Finn, Ed (10 September 2003). "Can Wham-O Sue Over Dickie Roberts?". Slate.com. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  4. ^ Gentile, Gary (September 9, 2003). "Slip 'N Slide Use In Film All Wet?". CBSNews.com. CBS. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  5. ^ Umbright, Emily (6 October 2006). "St. Louis-based appliance maker Emerson sues NBC". St. Louis Daily Record & St. Louis Countian. Archived from the original on 24 January 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  6. ^ "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star". Rotten Tomatoes.
  7. ^ "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star". Metacritic.
  8. ^ "Movie Title Search: STAR". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2019-08-09.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 5, 2003). "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star movie review". Chicago Sun-Times.
  10. ^ Leydon, Joe (1 September 2003). "Dickie Roberts – Former Child Star". Variety.
  11. ^ Sheri Linden (2 September 2003). "Dickie Roberts". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2003-09-07.
  12. ^ Kevin Thomas (5 September 2003). "He was a star once; can he be again?". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (5 September 2003). "'Roberts' a fit for Spade / Better-than-average writing, cameos lift genre movie". San Francisco Chronicle.

External linksEdit