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Life with Mikey

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Life with Mikey Movie Poster Image
Dated '90s comedy has some language.
  • PG
  • 1993
  • 91 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

People with tough exteriors often are soft and good-hearted inside.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Michael does the right thing and brings Angie and her estranged father together. A self absorbed and abusive 12-year-old actor belittles his mother and agents.

Violence

In a comic gross-out scene, Michael pours soured, lumpy milk from a container onto his cereal and then puts a spoonful of the disgusting concoction in his mouth. A 10-year-old steals wallets and threatens people with a pocket knife. An unwanted kiss.

Sex

A man seems to have invited a female acting client to his apartment to seduce her while it's clear she thinks she's there to run lines for an audition. He kisses her and she seems to be rebuff him. When she learns that he only represents child actors and that he has therefore been stringing her along by pretending to represent grownups, she leaves angrily. 

Language

"S--t," "ass," and "crap."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. A character turned to alcohol after the death of his wife and is in rehab getting his life back together.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Life with Mikey is a 1993 comedy featuring Michael J. Fox as a former child star now running a failing children's talent agency with his brother. Many well-worn themes weave throughout. Two people meet "cute," hate each other, then come to love each other, but in this case it's a 30-something has-been actor and a 10-year-old motherless pickpocket. The lead character is a bit sleazy -- he strings along an adult wannabe actress, seemingly just so he can be alone with her in his apartment. An unwanted kiss. Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. A 10-year-old is a practiced pickpocket and sometimes wields a pocket knife. A man is in rehab for alcohol abuse.  A young actor belittles his mother and agents. Michael pours soured, lumpy milk from a container onto his cereal and then puts a spoonful of the disgusting concoction in his mouth.

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What's the story?

LIFE WITH MIKEY was the name of the hit TV show Michael Chapman (Michael J. Fox ) starred in as a kid, Now, 15 years later, he's an irresponsible partner to his brother in their New York City talent agency for child actors. The character he'd played was a smart alec kid who got by on clever retorts, precocious observations, and an adorable smile. At 31, nothing has changed, except that his big brother and business partner Ed (Nathan Lane) is ready to shutter the agency if Michael doesn't step up. That's when Mike is pick-pocketed by the lovable 10-year-old moppet Angie (Christina Vidal), a seasoned liar who plays on the sympathy of her victims to extricate herself from difficult situations. Michael recognizes her talent immediately and signs her, then quickly books her for a series of major national commercials. She claims to have no legal guardian and insists on moving in with Michael in his filthy bachelor one-bedroom.  Angie learns to be more of a little kid and Michael learns to stop being a little kid.   

Is it any good?

This movie is likable enough but it covers no new territory and is mildly disappointing given the comic gifts of Fox and Lane and the artistry of the director, Tony winner James Lapine. Fox plays yet another of the selfish, fast-talking, wise-crackers typical of his resume in the 1990s, and viewers will wait patiently for the plot twist or character to come along to help humanize him by the story's end. Watching this cast breeze through the jokes is pleasant enough, but too many plot points strain credulity. In light of all the child labor laws, it's a stretch to ask us to believe an agency would sign a child without meeting parents or a guardian, or securing the proper paperwork.

Sexual politics of today make it hard to watch a scene in which an actress running lines in Michael's apartment is fighting off his kisses. She learns that he actually only represents child actors and that's why he's never gotten her a job. The revelation of his unspoken exploitation is downright creepy, a little reminiscent of current #MeToo accusations that used to be dismissed as mere "boys-will-be-boys" hijinks. Suddenly Michael seems unsavory and predatory, which some may find difficult to get past. The woefully underused Cyndi Lauper as a receptionist is the funniest thing in Life with Mikey

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about older comedies. Why do you think some of the humor in Life with Mikey falls flat now? How does what we consider to be funny change over time?

  • Why do you think Angie has developed such a tough exterior?

  • Michael seems selfish. How do you think his career as a child actor might have contributed to his strengths and personality flaws as an adult?

Movie details

For kids who love to laugh

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