A star vehicle for SNL alum and “Spin City” creep David Spade, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star looks to shed light on the child actor syndrome that has produced many victims but very few survivors. The eponymous has-been actor Spade plays in the film was the star of the fictional ‘70s sitcom “The Glimmer Gang,” which had him playing a wise-cracking tyke (essentially Dennis the Menace by way of Macaulay Culkin) whose famous catchphrase was “Nucking Futs.” (The film’s timing couldn’t be any more serendipitous, opening the same week as Party Monster, which resuscitates Culkin from a nine-year acting hiatus as gay club killer Michael Alig.) The film catalogs Dickie’s attempts to recreate his childhood at the request of Rob Reiner in an elaborate attempt to land a part in the director’s hot new project. (Apparently Dickie hasn’t seen Alex and Emma.) Dickie Roberts begins as an E! True Hollywood story, and as such is every bit as self-conscious as it is vanilla. The lame special appearances by endless former child stars seemingly exist to please the nostalgia wanker. Danny Bonaduce, Corey Feldman and Dustin Diamond are among Dickie’s poker buddies, and Barry Williams dutifully embarrasses himself by lamely referencing his career highpoint by pulling out the Brady Tiki idol that once hung from his neck. There are two films at war here: the satire Spade and ex-SNL writer Fred Wolf want it to be (there are bright spots here, including a hysterical and genuinely sweet sequence that gives it to the Britneys of the world who don’t want to act their age) and the bad TV sitcom facsimile it becomes when Dickie realizes that love is more important than fame. The problem with Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is that it doesn’t understand (but should) that Emmanuel Lewis kicking the shit out of someone is nowhere near as funny as Emmanuel Lewis himself. Dickie wants the second coming John Travolta made for himself but doesn’t realize that maybe Look Who’s Talking should have put Travolta out of commission for good.
The image is a little oversaturated but the audio is nucking futs!
First off are two commentary tracks, one by director Sam Weisman and another by David Spade and writer Fred Wolf; the former is sure to cure anyone's insomnia and the humor on the latter is perhaps a little too laconic. (On the main menu, click on "Nucking Futs!" for a quickie blooper reel.) Next is Comedy Central's "Reel Comedy: Dickie Roberts," which shouldn't be missed for the Joanie Loves Webster smackdown. Better than the standard making-of featurette "The True Hollywood Story" is "Pencil Dickie: Writing the Story," which traces the origins of Spade's relationship with Wolf from their early days on SNL to Tommy Boy and Dickie Roberts. Behind "Child Stars On Your Television" chronicles how the films producers brought together 27 former child stars for the sublime music video "Child Stars On Your Television," which is available here in its extended form. Rounding out the disc are some funny deleted scenes and music videos for Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Timeline, School of Rock, The Fighting Temptations and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.
A not-so-solid film gets a solid audio and video transfer and the red carpet treatment in the features department.