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Spade disappoints as a screenwriter in latest venture

Stephanie Chambers | Monday, September 15, 2003

The movie E! True Hollywood Story of Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is a satire which attempts to capture the life of a once-famous child star of the 70s, Dickie Roberts (David Spade), as he tries to regain his former television commercial glory days, throwing aside his adult life of parking cars.

Dickie Roberts is an abandoned child who grows up to be no more than a valet until he decides to audition for a role in an upcoming movie produced by Rob Reiner (played by himself). However, Roberts encounters dilemma, forcing him to step outside himself and his usual methods of acting.

He auditions for a role that requires him to portray the elated sentiments of a child who has discovered a red bike on Christmas Day. Reiner gives Roberts a chance to prove himself, but to Roberts’ dismay, he fails to meet the acting ability needed.

After this disappointment, Roberts makes this his mission and will go to any length in order to become the character Reiner desires to fill the role.

Roberts never experienced the emotions of a normal child, particularly in reference to receiving Christmas gifts like that of a beautiful, shiny red bike. He resolves to prove Reiner’s suspicions wrong by correcting his unsteady acting capability.

The Tracy family is Roberts’ cure to his acting woes. Roberts pays the Tracy family more than $20,000 to move in and glean the interactions of a normal family, one in which he never encountered.

The children, Sam and Sally, give Roberts pointers on how to speak and deal with parents. In return, Roberts offers tips to Sam on how to talk to girls and teaches Sally the moves necessary to gain a spot on the pompom squad. The children’s mother, Grace, is amazed with Roberts’ helpfulness to the family and rewards him with the bike he never dreamt he would have.

The question you may pose now is whether Roberts’ efforts in learning to be a normal child helped aid him in obtaining the role for his desired film. My answer is: Who cares? The ill-plotted movie is not worth the time or the money. The main focus of the movie – Roberts learning to be a normal child – is almost lost in him proving he’s not a loser.

The one hour and 39-minute, slow-moving film is rated PG-13 for a reason. Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star certainly caught the attention of the cackling 11- and 15-year-olds sitting by my side. As I recall, the theater was primarily filled with young middle school-aged youths.

As for the more mature crowd, their faces lacked any form of expression. The scant chuckles, including mine, proved the failure of the plot, written by David Spade.

The only accomplishment in making of the film is David Spade’s urge to produce something fun for himself. I would rather lend an ear to Michael Jackson’s abnormal childhood stories than this theoretical life story. David Spade, former film writer, ought to think twice before again wasting hours in an effort to write scripts.

Contact Stephanie Chambers at cham2749@saintmarys.edu