The pitch for this
probably sounded good. Take a
former child star from a TV sitcom, Dickie Roberts (David Spade), and give
him a selfish, Hollywood mom, Peggy (Doris Roberts), who abandons him.
When his series is cancelled, he’s a complete mess and can’t
become an adult, never having been a child.
By the time we meet him, at age 35, he’s a loser.
Then he’s rejected for a role in a new Rob Reiner film on the basis
that he has to have been a child to act this part.
So Dickie hires a family, headed by Grace Finney (Mary McCormack, the
best thing in the movie), to allow him to join her husband and two children
so they can treat him as their child. The
idea must have been that we’ll watch them affect one another.
what sounded good in a pitch has been translated by people who don’t speak
the language. Take the writers, for instance. Scriptwriters Fred Wolf and
Spade don’t exhibit a scintilla of understanding about how children talk
and act. Nothing ever occurs
that shows why Dickie should have a positive effect on the family or why the
family should have a positive effect on Dickie.
Just about everything Dickie suggests they do is dishonest or
malevolent, and it turns out OK, not the morality I want to see in a movie,
even if it is supposed to be a comedy.
One of the climactic moments in the film is when 35-year-old Dickie
takes on three 12-year-old bullies who are tormenting Dickie’s new
“brother,” and vanquishes them. This
gives you the same kind of rush you might get watching Goliath beat the
stuffing out of David. The
relationship between Grace and her husband is never developed, other than
showing him to be an insensitive clod while Grace is perfection personified.
Jon Lovitz plays Dickie’s agent, Sidney Wernick.
I’ve never seen Jon Lovitz before where he wasn’t funny.
The Wolf-Spade script conquered that barrier.
Or, take the
casting. The two children, Sam
(Scott Terra) and Sally (Jenna Boyd) resemble refugees from The Munsters.
That wouldn’t be so bad if that were the concept; hook Dickie up
with children even more screwed up than he!
Good comedic idea. But
it’s not what’s intended. These
are supposed to be normal children. Sam’s
hairdo looks like he must have been electrocuted before each scene. If the
idea was for Dickie to become a child and try to live through a childhood by
associating with children, Sam and Sally aren’t the ones.
They’re children who talk and act like 25 year-olds.
Even more laughable (not funny laughable, pathetic laughable) is the
casting of the “bullies” who torment Sam.
They’re fat and ugly and, in real life, they’d be the bully-ees,
not the bully-ers.
terminates with a silly Hollywood ending, followed by the closing credits
with legions of real life former child stars singing a coarse song that, I
guess, is meant to be funny. Instead it’s just scurrilous.
However, this segment does seem to validate the premise of the movie,
to wit, as a result of their lack of development in their formative years,
former child stars often grow up to be losers.
September 5, 2003