25
Nov
08

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

dickieroberts01

Even if you count the unintended camp humor in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, the cliché of the fallen child actor is overdue for a smart comedic sendup. Too bad, then, that Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star ensures we’ll keep waiting. Introduced in an E! True Hollywood Story clip, Dickie (David Spade), once the precocious 6-year-old star of a popular sitcom, now lives on the fringes of notoriety: trounced by Emmanuel Lewis on Celebrity Boxing, abandoned by his bitchy girlfriend (Alyssa Milano), and parking cars to make ends meet. Desperate for a comeback, Dickie wants to land a part in an upcoming Rob Reiner movie. But Reiner—who, alongside the likes of Butch Patrick and Dustin Diamond, makes one of Dickie’s dozens of often embarrassing cameos—doubts that this true child of Hollywood can pull off playing a normal guy. Determined to make a comeback, Dickie—apparently a Method actor—moves in with a stereotypical suburban family headed by absentee dad George (Craig Bierko). It’s a promising setup, but Spade seems unwilling to step outside his sarcastic-asshole comfort zone long enough to infuse Dickie with any warmth, a failing that’s particularly evident during the character’s supposed psychological breakthrough at a staged family Christmas. In fact, although he co-wrote Dickie, Spade looks annoyed to have been cast in it—think a nastier, shorter Whoopi Goldberg in Theodore Rex. Director Weisman (What’s the Worst That Could Happen?) doesn’t improve matters as he clumsily juggles scenes of pratfalls—including a bicycle gag lifted straight from Wayne’s World—and family melodrama. And the “We Are the World”- style musical number at the closing credits, featuring dozens of aging child actors asking to be left alone, is about as funny as a 20-year high-school reunion. Dickie Roberts makes you wonder, “What ever happened to David Spade?”

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