Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

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Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
Dickie Roberts Former Child Star film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sam Weisman
Produced by Adam Sandler
Jack Giarraputo
Fred Wolf
Written by David Spade
Fred Wolf
Starring David Spade
Mary McCormack
Craig Bierko
Rob Reiner
Music by Christophe Beck
Waddy Wachtel
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Edited by Roger Bondelli
Happy Madison Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • September 5, 2003 (2003-09-05)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million
Box office $23,794,648

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is a 2003 American comedy film directed by Sam Weisman and starring David Spade (who also co-wrote the film) and Mary McCormack. Spade portrays a child actor who fell into obscurity as an adult, and who attempts to revive his career.

The film was a financial success, but critical reviews were mostly negative.


Dickie Roberts is a former child star who shot to fame on a TV sitcom called The Glimmer Gang with his catchphrase "This is Nuckin' Futs!". His career subsequently halted after his 6th birthday. Since his heyday, he has been reduced to parking cars at Morton's and appearing on Celebrity Boxing, where he is matched with Emmanuel Lewis. In the public eye, Dickie is washed up.

Dickie is absolutely convinced that a new Rob Reiner movie in the works, Mr. Blake's Backyard, will be his comeback vehicle. Even after his agent does not land him an audition, Dickie persists. He pesters Tom Arnold at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to hook him up with Reiner. After he is kicked out because he's not an alcoholic, Dickie fakes being wasted and crashes what turns out to be a Lamaze class. However, Brendan Fraser (in an uncredited cameo appearance) is in the class and he agrees to call Reiner for Dickie.

Reiner bluntly tells Dickie that the part is not within his abilities because it requires knowing how a regular person lives. Unfortunately, Dickie never had a real childhood: he grew up in the limelight, and then his mother abandoned him when his show was cancelled. Desperate to prove to Reiner that he's right for the part, Dickie sells his raunchy autobiography to raise $30,000. With the money, he pays a family to "adopt" him for a month. As expected, once Dickie hires his "family", things do not go well as he tries to fit into the household.

Dickie learns much about himself and life in general, and finally lands the part. Along the way, he helps the family's son score a date with his dream girl and helps the daughter join the pep squad. The main lesson he learns is from Blake's Backyard itself: sometimes the things you want are in your own backyard. When his gold-digger girlfriend runs off with the self-centered father of his fake family, Dickie gives up the part to be with the family he has come to love.

The movie ends with a faux E! True Hollywood Story report on Dickie, who now turns his real story into a new sitcom that uses all of his old friends, as well as his new family (including the mother, whom he has married). The closing credits are a take-off on Relief albums listed as "To help former child stars". The song includes The Brady Bunch's Maureen McCormick singing "But if one more person calls me 'Marcia', I'll bust his fucking head", and many references to old television sitcoms.

The movie shows Dickie interacting with numerous former child stars, played by over two dozen actual former stars lampooning their careers, such as Leif Garrett, Barry Williams, Dustin Diamond and Danny Bonaduce.




Paramount Pictures was sued for trademark infringement and dilution after this film was released. Paramount had not requested permission from Wham-O for using the Slip 'n Slide in this movie.[1] The lawsuit claimed that the movie, which portrayed unsafe use of a Slip 'n Slide, might encourage others to use it in an unsafe manner.[2] The lawsuit was dismissed by a California court.[3]


Dickie Roberts was a modest financial success, earning over $22 million against an estimated budget of $17 million[4]

Critical reception was mostly negative. Rotten Tomatoes describes the film as "rotten," with a 23% rating.[5] While critics generally agreed that the premise had potential and appreciated the involvement of actual former child stars, reactions to Spade's humor were mixed, and the attempts to make the film genuinely uplifting and sentimental in its second half were seen as contrived and unnecessary.[6] Roger Ebert gave the movie two-out-of-four stars, noting "'Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star' has a premise that would be catnip for Steve Martin or Jim Carrey, but David Spade (who, to be fair, came up with the premise) casts a pall of smarmy sincerity over the material."[7] However, some critics still noted the film as an improvement over previous David Spade features, such as Joe Dirt.


  1. ^ Finn, Ed (10 September 2003). "Can Wham-O Sue Over Dickie Roberts?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 5 October 2007. 
  2. ^ Gentile, Gary (September 9, 2003). "Slip 'N Slide Use In Film All Wet?". Associated Press. Retrieved 5 October 2007. 
  3. ^ Umbright, Emily (6 October 2006). "St. Louis-based appliance maker Emerson sues NBC". St. Louis Daily Record & St. Louis Countian. Retrieved 5 October 2007. 
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0325258/business
  5. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dickie_roberts_former_child_star/
  6. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dickie_roberts_former_child_star/
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Dickie Roberts." 05 September 2003; accessed 17 April 2012.

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