A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
Dickie Roberts was the son of an overbearing mother who pushed him to be the child star of a hugely successful TV show called The Glimmer Gang, complete with a precious tagline ("This is nucking futs!") that propelled him into stardom and had him washed up by the time he was seven. Fighting to get back in the business, he begs director Rob Reiner to cast him in a role that Sean Penn is competing for. When Reiner tells Dickie that he's unsuitable for the part because he has no idea of what it's like to have a normal childhood, Dickie puts an ad in the paper to find a family that will let him move into their house and live like a kid, as one character says, to "reboot him like a computer."
Is it any good?
DICKIE ROBERTS: FORMER CHILD STAR just isn't a very funny movie. At best, audiences who don't think too much will laugh once or twice then forget the whole thing before they reach the door of the theater. Of course the premise makes no sense, but then the way it's carried out doesn't make any sense either. It's just a string of listless skits. The movie feels haphazard and thrown together, with a bike-riding scene that ends up like a Jackass stunt and a disturbingly Oedipal "your mom's hot" running joke. Just to show how lazy this film is, when Dickie gets back on the scene, instead of writing something funny, they use old footage of David Spade on Jay Leno's show, on the cover of Rolling Stone, and performing with Aerosmith. Or maybe that was in hopes of reminding us that despite this movie, David Spade is actually a pretty cool guy.
There are a few moments that remind you how talented Spade is, particularly when he spouts off smart-aleck remarks, but they are more suitable for stand-up routines than for depiction on screen with other actors. His insults to some school bullies would be funnier if we didn't see him actually using that language to people who are, after all, children. The movie seems to applaud him not just for crudely insulting children, but also for making a fake 911 call and giving someone the finger. Episodes like giving a bath to a dead rabbit, applauding "Mom" for rudely telling off an imperious neighbor, the exchange of a kidney transplant for an audition, and hitting someone in the head with a champagne cork are sour and weird. Ultimately, though, the movie's lame humor is less painful than the supposedly touching material about how love is all that really matters.
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