Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003)

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Released 9-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary-Sam Weisman (Director)
Audio Commentary-David Spade (Writer/Actor) And Fred Wolf (Writer)
Featurette-Reel Comedy: Dickie Roberts
Featurette-The True Hollywood Story
Featurette-Pencil Dickie: Writing The Stroy
Featurette-Behind "Child Stars On Your Television"
Music Video
Deleted Scenes-9
Theatrical Trailer
Easter Egg-Outtakes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 94:23
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sam Weisman
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Nicholas Schwerin
Doris Roberts
Dick Van Patten
David Spade
Michelle Ruben
John Farley
Bobby Slayton
Michael Buffer
Fred Wolf
Alyssa Milano
Emmanuel Lewis
Joey Diaz
Kevin Grevioux
Case ?
RPI ? Music Christophe Beck
Marc Ellis
Mark Hoppus


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Greek
Hebrew
Croatian
Hungarian
Portuguese
Slovenian
Serbian
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, The only funny part of the movie - a spoof song.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

This is Nuckin' Futs!

    Note to self - if ever I see a film recommended by Bill Zwecker (the cover of this DVD quotes him as saying "I laughed until I cried"), I must run, not walk, in the opposite direction as quickly as possible. Ignore the cover blurb - Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is simply not funny, which is a mortal sin for a comedy film.

    I like David Spade - in the TV show Just Shoot Me! he plays a character which fits him like a glove. He effortlessly portrays an alternately obsequious and b****y, lecherous, little weasel to perfection. In that role he makes me smile, and indeed laugh out loud on occasion. That demonstrates his potential when placed in a well-written character and a well written script. This film, penned by Spade himself, is the antithesis of humour. It is banal, obvious, derivative, bland, treacly, and totally without humour. My suspicions of the dire nature of this feature-length effort should have been raised when I spotted that it was co-produced by the execrable Adam Sandler.

    Spade plays Dickie Roberts, a former child actor who has long since faded from the spotlight and who ekes out a living as a valet parking attendant in Hollywood. He is forced to live the life of a neurotic mere mortal - complete with obsessive-compulsive gloves. Despite his current travails, his former fame as star of The Glimmer Gang has secured him a b****y but gorgeous girlfriend (Alyssa Milano). After bumping into Leif Garret (remember him?) on the street, he learns of a choice part which is being cast in the new Rob Reiner film. Whilst playing poker with his circle of former child star buddies (some mildly amusing cameos from the real former stars of The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, Saved By The Bell, Happy Days and the like), Brendan Fraser (don't ask) contacts him to let him know he has arranged an audition with Reiner on his behalf. Unfortunately for Dickie (and the viewers of this abysmal movie), he is deemed to be unsuitable for the role as he has never developed a real personality due to his televisually curtailed childhood.

    Refusing to take his fate lying down, Dickie advertises in the paper for a family who are willing to allow him the chance to re-live his missed childhood, thereby developing a real personality of his own. After a couple of dead-end leads, he manages to find the Finney family. Selfless mother Grace (Mary McCormack), selfish dad George (Craig Bierko) and their nauseatingly twee kids Sam and Sally provide the backdrop for Dickie's self-indulgent new life experiences. For some strange reason, despite living in a very large home, Dickie, Sally and Sam all have to share the same bedroom. Inevitably Roberts gets to learn all of the things he missed out on as a kid, whilst teaching his new "brother and sister" a few tricks from his spoiled, overgrown child-star repertoire. However patchy the gags and sluggish the plot developments, we can be sure of the outcome of this shallow tale before the first reel is over.

    There is a good basic premise here - washed-up child stars could have made for a memorable comedy. Unfortunately, this one great idea is utterly squandered on plot elements which are telegraphed in cringeworthy fashion, characters who are mere cardboard cut-outs and an utter lack of innovation in the humour department. The plot goes from bad to worse when Dickie begins to fall in love (gak) with his new mommy... Saccharine sweet and without a shred of wit, this is a truly poor attempt at family comedy and there really is very, very little to commend about this dreck. Incongruously, the "gags" alternate between fun mishaps with hosepipes and offensive swearing and drug and sex references (root beer belching I want to bang your mommy). The root of the trouble is that the film cannot decide who it is trying to please - adults or kids - and ends up pleasing nobody at all.

    The sole significant laugh which is available comes during the closing credits of the film - perhaps it was just relief making me laugh? A stellar ensemble of former child performers is assembled to sing a rather biting "fund-raising" song about the plight of the formerly famous (a la Band Aid) - but the vitriol in this song is totally out of keeping with the flaccid and schmaltzy bulk of the film. Even this, however, is a pale imitation of The Simpsons' parody of such humanitarian numbers (Sending Our Love Down A Well if I recall correctly). Trust me - avoid this rubbish at all costs. Take the money you might have spent on renting it and make a donation to your favourite children's charity instead.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this film is pretty good.

    The movie is presented in a measured 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 2.38:1 which is essentially the same as the 2.35:1 original theatrical aspect ratio.

    Image sharpness is generally good, with little in the way of softness and no significant grain in evidence.

    Black levels are just fine although it is all pretty brightly lit, so there is really little to test the depth or the equally fine shadow detail. Colours are vivid with no sign of colour bleeding despite a tendency towards oversaturation at times. Skin tones are acceptable albeit a little too orange to be considered totally natural.

    The transfer has no significant MPEG artefacts. I noticed no troublesome occurrences of either aliasing or edge enhancement. The transfer is very clean with no significant film artefacts present.

    The English subtitles are well timed and clear but they do drop quite a large number of phrases - for no real reason it seems.

    The disc is single sided and dual layered (RSDL), with the brief layer change cropping up without any pomp or ceremony at 33:45.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is technically fine without being at all memorable.

    There is a single English audio track for the main feature, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps. It is free from defects in the way of pops, hiss or dropouts and dialogue is very clear at all times.

    Original music is credited to Christophe Beck (Just Married, The Tuxedo and Bring It On) and is totally forgettable. There are some nice pop songs scattered through the film including numbers by Good Charlotte, Harvey Danger and Christopher Cross' old AOR classic Ride Like The Wind.

    Unsurprisingly for a comedy the soundstage is predominantly frontal and the 5.1 soundtrack makes little use of the effects speakers. The dialogue is firmly located in the centre channel, the main front speakers give a bit of spread across the room whilst the effects speakers get an occasional wake-up call from a couple of spot effects, but are primarily used to support the musical tracks.

    There is some subwoofer activity at times with occasionally noticeable LFE presence.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are significant and far too numerous for such a trivial feature.

Menu

    The animated main menu allows the options of playing the feature, selecting one of eighteen chapter stops, audio language and subtitle selection, plus access to the following special features:

Nucking Futs!

    Running for 0:53 this is a series of bloopers presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 kbps.

Audio Commentary 1

    Director Sam Weisman, who has directed his fair share of child actors (Family Ties, D2: The Mighty Ducks) provides a fairly detailed commentary with plenty of inside information. This is available with English subtitles.

Audio Commentary 2

    Fred Wolf and David Spade - the co-writers - provide a scene-specific commentary, with subtitles available. They also co-wrote Joe Dirt, an earlier Spade starring vehicle. It is mildly amusing and personally I found it funnier than the film itself..

Reel Comedy: Dickie Roberts

    This Comedy Central featurette runs for 17:31 and is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. It is far more enjoyable than the film with Bierko and Spade plus some of the cast providing a few genuine laughs.

The True Hollywood Story

    Running for 16:01, this featurette is again presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 kbps. It is fairly typical EPK fluff.

Pencil Dickie: Writing The Story

    Presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps, this short piece runs for 11:52 and is presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 kbps. Spade and Wolf provide a light-hearted interview talking the viewer through the history of their writing partnership.

Behind Child Stars On Your Television

    Presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps, this featurette gives a behind the scenes view of the song from the end of the movie and runs for 7:00.

Child Stars On Your Television

    An extended version of the song used at the end of the film running for 6:35. Presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Deleted Scenes

    Presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps, the following deleted scenes are presented (with a play all feature available):

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps the trailer runs for 2:25 and makes the film look far funnier than it actually is.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of this film appears to be essentially the same as our own, with a few additional Paramount trailers thrown in for good measure. If you must buy a copy, the Region 4 release would suffice.

Summary

    Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is a novel concept terribly realised on film. David Spade really needs to choose his material better - this film is a waste of his narrow (but occasionally deliciously acerbic) comedic talents. Really, other than the closing credits spoof song this is a film which does not warrant the rental fee. Avoid.

    The 2.38:1 video transfer is pretty good.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfer is fine without ever coming close to being demonstration material.

    The extras are numerous and far exceed the quantity warranted by such a poor main feature.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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