Dickie Roberts Former Child Star

By Mark Ramsey | 2003/09/07

I haven’t laughed long and hard at the movies in a while, and that includes the long and hard while I spent with Dickie Roberts, Former Child Star. Even a forensics team couldn’t find laughs here, although they could detect plenty of crap, all splattered from the mind of David Spade.

This is the kind of comedy that doesn’t demand those distracting laughs from an audience intent on relaxing long stretches of meditation and quiet reflection.

What can you say about a movie so bad even the folks who design its poster don’t watch it? “50 million people used to watch him on TV,” says the poster, “Now he washes their cars.” Uh, no, actually he parks their cars. But why expect the suits in Hollywood to know the difference between “wash” and “park” when they can’t distinguish between good and bad?

David Spade retreads his cockier-than-thou, smarm-aleck persona in a project aimed squarely at the three people who mourn the cancellation of Just Shoot Me, relatives all.


Costar Mary McCormack says there was quite a bit of ad-libbing during this shoot because as everyone knows: If it’s not funny after writing and rewriting it for several months it’ll certainly be funny when you make it up on the spot.

Much of the appeal here, if there is any, is to see what’s become of the former child stars from television’s history, because they’re almost all here. How did they all clear their calendars to make room for this movie!? Aren’t there ribbons to cut at new Piggly Wigglys? Don’t their regular occupations tie them up, or are all the good rocket science jobs taken?

L.A. unemployment dipped to zero the day this cast was assembled. Rather like a visit to Ripley’s Believe it or Not, in that glass case is the carcass of Eddie Munster, over in the sideshow tent with Lobster Boy is Joanie from Happy Days. Wearing that red cap like it’s Crazy Glued onto his big fat head is Rerun from What’s Happening? Wanna know what’s happening, Rerun? NOTHING, that’s what.

What makes these asterisks from the Walk of Fame haunt us so many years after their prime and prime-time have passed them by? Is it the allure of the spotlight, the roar of the crowd, the smell of the greasepaint, the due-date of the rent? Perhaps they lack the skill-set to hold up a convenience store. I’ll tell you this, Rehab may make you clean, but it sure don’t make you pretty.

Spade is grown-up child star Dickie Roberts. Mary McCormack defends Dickie to her husband: “He’s a human being, not just some product for you to use.” Tell it to the folks who cast Screech.

In a scene plucked from Sunset Boulevard Spade plays poker with a posse of one-time lunchbox icons: Greg Brady, Danny Bonaduce, Leif Garrett, Screech, and either Corey Feldman or Corey Haim. In a game like that, winning isn’t the goal, it’s the hopeless dream.


Florence Henderson, Mrs. Cunningham, even Dick Van Patten make an appearance. Who knew “Eight is Enough” referred to the number of authentic hairs on Dick’s head?

I like sentimental hogwash as much as the next guy, but Dickie Roberts tries to warm the heart by sticking it in an oven on “broil.” Gross sentiment has to be earned, and nobody in this movie has earned anything since their last E! True Hollywood Story.

Spades’ character wants a part in a hypothetical Rob Reiner movie called “Mr. Blake’s Backyard.” He should have held out for “Mrs. Affleck’s Backyard.”

Obviously returning some favor he will live to regret, Reiner cameos to tell Spade that he can’t handle the part because he never lived a real life. As a result, Spade decides to relive his childhood and hire a family. Unfortunately, he neglected to hire an audience.

Skip the usher, just send Dr. Kervorkian down the aisle because I have some last requests:

1. If Adam Sandler thinks a movie’s good enough to produce for one of his stooges, but not good enough to star in, put a skull-and-crossbones on it and call it a day

2. If there’s a Christopher Cross sing-a-long anywhere in the movie, evacuate the theater and drown your head in a large Icee

3. When an actor with the micro-range of David Spade headlines a movie, calibrate your expectations somewhere between rank disillusionment and grievous disappointment.

On the way out, some guy muttered “Well, it’s a $4 movie.” That was his way of saying since he only blew four bucks on a matinee this should assuage feeling of being had.

Give Dickie Roberts a week or two in the theaters.

Then, “buh bye.”

Photos Copyright ©2003 Paramount Pictures


Comments are closed.

Enter your own funny caption

caption this

“This is where we would kiss if I was attracted to girls”