Like Mike Movie Poster Image

Like Mike



Lil Bow Wow in family friendly fantasy.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive role models

Diverse characters are friends and teammates.

Violence & scariness

Kids in peril (no one hurt), very mean treatment by adults.

Sexy stuff

Mild innuendo.


Brief mild language

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is a surprising amount of abuse and cruelty by adults in this movie. Bittleman lies, cheats, calls Ox an idiot, and forces the children to sell candy outdoors late at night. He burns Murph's only photo of his mother. Some kids may be upset by the orphanage and by Tracey's estrangement from his father. Make sure kids know that they must stay away from power lines and lightning. And make sure that kids know that room service is not free!

What's the story?

Pint-size rap star Lil Bow Wow plays Calvin Cambridge, who lives in an orphanage run by a meanie named Bittleman (Crispin Glover). Like Little Orphan Annie, Calvin's sunny outlook and determination sustain him, though he wishes he had a family. His best pals are Murphy ("Jerry Maguire's" Jonathan Lipnicki) and Reg (Brenda Song). The orphanage bully, Ox (Jesse Plemons), pushes him around, but Calvin does not allow Ox to affect his view of himself. A pair of used sneakers in a box of donated clothes has the initials "MJ" and there is a rumor that they were worn by a tall, bald, pro basketball player when he was a kid. Ox throws them onto a telephone wire, but Calvin gets them down in the middle of a lightning storm. (Parents might want to warn kids that this would not be a wise thing to try in real life.) When Calvin and the shoes are hit by lightning, something very special happens. When Calvin wears the shoes, he can play "like Mike." Calvin ends up playing for pro team the Knights, originally as a publicity stunt, but then as a real member of the team. The other teammates are at first skeptical and hostile, but they learn to appreciate his contribution. Calvin's roommate and assigned mentor is Tracey Reynolds (Morris Chestnut), a loner who does not speak to his father and does not want to get close to anyone.

Is it any good?


LIKE MIKE has a formula intended for box-office heaven – a teen idol into a family-friendly fantasy. The best thing about the movie is its surprisingly able cast of supporting players, including Robert Forster as the coach and Eugene Levy as the team's publicist. Chestnut is real leading man material. LBW himself has a lot of charm. A number of NBA greats make brief appearances.

The script is right out of the Hollywood formula box, with everything from two different "shoes not there at the crucial moment" scenes and important lessons about teamwork to the winning shot going into the basket just as the buzzer goes off. It's a combination Air Bud and Absent-Minded Professor. The movie is oddly edited with some plot holes. We never find out what went wrong in Tracey's relationship with his father and we get very inconsistent information about his relationships with a couple of different women. The resolution with Bittleman is offscreen and unsatisfying, and many of the kids are still left without parents at the end of the movie.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about where the power really came from. Why did Calvin want a nickname? Why, when he wanted a family so badly, did Calvin reject some of the people who wanted to adopt him? What is a mentor, and how do you find one or become one? How much of what made Calvin a basketball star was in the shoes, and how much was in his heart?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 3, 2002
DVD/Streaming release date:December 10, 2002
Cast:Bow Wow, Jonathan Lipnicki, Morris Chestnut
Director:John Schultz
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Sports and martial arts
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:peril and some language

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Kid, 10 years old July 23, 2012

My Teacher Made Us Watch It

My Teacher liked it but didn't hear the h*** in the movie. I ain't a fan.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Kid, 12 years old December 27, 2013

Funny, Good Basketball Movie 7/10

This is a pretty good basketball movie. I think that it has some positive messages for kids, and it didn't have too much swearing in it, only a little. There are some things though that are iffy for small children. Stan Bittleman's treatment of the kids at the orphanage is not very nice at times. But he does get what he deserves in the end. All in all, a pretty good basketball movie for kids.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byhusker97 May 30, 2012

Realy good movie for all ages.

ive been watching this movie since i was like 5 years old. not that i realy understood it back then but yeah. nothing bad in it, mild language ( one reference of the "D" word) Realy good movie for all ages.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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