Like Mike

"Good"

Like Mike Review


By all rights, "Like Mike" should be a lousy movie. Designed as a slap-dash kiddie flick, built around a dumb plot device (magic sneakers turn a young orphan into an NBA all-star) and starring a flash-in-the-pan novelty hip-hopper (Lil' Bow Wow), its overall concept is thick with seemingly predictable, third-hand story elements. Will the kid find adoptive parents? Will his team win the big game? Well, duh.

But director John Schultz ("Drive Me Crazy") doesn't use the shoes as a storytelling crutch (they account for about four minutes of the whole movie), he gets charismatic performances from his cast of talented players, and he beats down almost every encroaching cliché, creating in their stead a smart kids' picture of delightful surprises.

Sure, as the film begins street-smart but endearingly sweet 14-year-old Calvin Cambridge (Bow Wow) is living in a laughably diverse group home (his two best friends are a white boy played by "Jerry Maguire's" Jonathan Lipnicki and an Asian girl played by Brenda Song), where he's picked on by a teenage bully and dreams of being adopted. "Parents only want the puppies," he moans.

But with amusingly creepy character actor Crispin Glover ("Charlie's Angels," "Back to the Future") cast as the greedy foster father who plans to get rich exploiting Calvin, it's soon clear that "Like Mike" isn't interested in recycling old clichés. It wants to tweak them with a taste of tangy new humor.

When a pair of sneakers that supposedly belonged to Michael Jordan arrives at the foster home in a box of donated clothing, Calvin puts them on and suddenly displays mad skills as a basketball player -- including the ability to jump 20 feet for a slam dunk during a halftime contest at Los Angeles Knights game.

Smelling a marketing gimmick, the business manager of the fictitious Knights recruits Calvin as a new "player." He's intended to be nothing but a mascot, but he becomes a superstar after the coach (Robert Forster) puts him in one game on a whim and the kid scores 20 points.

While "Like Mike" is so cheap with the special effects that we never see Calvin make a basket in a single camera shot, Bow Wow can handle the ball convincingly enough that you'll believe it when he outfoxes several NBA guest-stars (Allen Iverson, Karl Malone and Alonzo Mourning among others). And these scenes are all about the game, not the gimmick. Director Schultz doesn't include a single shot of the shoes as the kid plays, and he gives the basketball scenes an abundance of energy with a great club mix soundtrack.

A good portion of the story, however, is about Calvin's friendship with Knights star Tracey Reynolds (Morris Chestnut, "The Brothers"). The pro can't believe he's been stuck babysitting this hyperactive kid, who bounces on hotel beds, pigs out on room service sweets and cramps Tracey's style with groupies during road trips.

It's tons of little details like Chestnut's hilariously deadpan reaction shots that make "Like Mike" so enjoyable. It's Calvin crawling into a team huddle or jumping up behind a ballplayer during a post-game interview to put in his two cents. It's the funny montage sequence of weird potential parents suddenly interested in adopting Calvin after he becomes a media darling. It's the fact that Tracey is estranged from his own father, yet when they're reunited it's in a quick, dialogue-free transition scene of the two men having a beer and not some drawn-out, weepy, feel-good moment full of hugs and apologies.

This is not a brilliant or original movie. It's fluff that fades fast from your memory. It's also dragged down by a car-vs.-scooter chase scene finale that is disappointingly contrived and lackluster in the wake of the pizzazz and cleverness that comes before it.

But it's a smart and spirited movie that knows there's a way to make a standard kids' movie while sidestepping the hackneyed elements that make such movies so intolerable to anyone who isn't a kid.



Like Mike

Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 3rd July 2002

Box Office USA: $51.4M

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: 20th Century Fox, Like Mike Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 57%
Fresh: 55 Rotten: 42

IMDB: 5.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: John Schultz

Starring: as Calvin Cambridge, as Tracey Reynolds, as Murph, as Reg Stevens, as Ox, Julius Ritter as Marlon (as Julius Charles Ritter), as Stan Bittleman, as Sister Theresa, as Coach Wagner, as Frank Bernard, Roger Morrissey as Marvin Joad (as Roger Morrissey), Timon Kyle as Henderson

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.