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

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

Advertisement
The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

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.