Like Mike
1 out of 5 stars
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Basically, this deeply unimaginative film is a feature-length advertisement for the NBA, sponsored by Nike. It's cute and silly and quite painful to watch. Calvin (Lil Bow Wow) and Murph (Lipnicki) are 13-year-old orphans in Los Angeles who are obsessed with basketball. When Calvin finds a pair of sneakers marked with a faded "MJ" he's sure they once belonged to basketball great Michael Jordan, and when he wears them he has magical powers that are noticed by the guys (Levy and Forster) who manage the L.A. Knights. Soon he's playing alongside his hero (Chestnut), while the Fagin-like manager of the orphanage (Glover) rubs his hands with glee.

Golly, I wonder what will happen? There's not even a vaguely original idea in this film, which insults its audience not only with boneheaded plotting but also goes way over-the-top with the effects. Doesn't anyone notice that Calvin is actually flying over the court, Crouching Tiger-style? This would be fine if the filmmakers would just go for it, but no, they want to be Deep and Meaningful as well, shovelling on messages about loyalty, family, friendship and greed. The acting is fine; Lil Bow Wow is energetic and lively enough to keep us giggling, and he's not a bad actor at all. Chestnut gives another interesting performance ... in another shallow film. And there's fantastic support from veterans like Levy, Forster, Meara and of course Glover, in the thankless villain role, not to mention half of the actual NBA. It's bright and colourful enough to keep the very young interested. But as it sinks in a sludge of cliches and fake sentiment, everyone else will wish they'd just rented Oliver! on video instead.

cert PG mild themes, language 22.Nov.02

dir John Schultz
scr Michael Elliot, Jordan Moffet
with Lil Bow Wow, Morris Chestnut, Jonathan Lipnicki, Crispin Glover, Eugene Levy, Robert Forster, Anne Meara, Brenda Song, Jesse Plemons, Julius Charles Ritter, Roger Morrissey, Reginald VelJohnson
release US 3.Jul.02; UK 13.Dec.02
Fox
02/US 1h39

Big boys. Calvin (Lil Bow Wow) faces up to the NBA pros ... and wins

chestnut lipnicki levy
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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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