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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Croatian, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Commentary - English
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes - 3 Montages
  • Audio commentary - Director John Schultz, Lil Bow Wow, Jonathan Lipnicki
  • Featurette - Making of
  • Music video - 'Basketball' - Lil Bow Wow
  • TV spot - Soundtrack promo
  • Documentaries - Off the Hook and On the Set

Like Mike

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 96 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

I gotta admit, I had my trepidation watching this film. Not being a big basketball fan, nor an enthusiast of teenage rap recording artists, I didn’t feel it had much appeal for me. And I was right. This is a fun film with some fairly decent performances from Lil Bow Wow and Jonathan Lipnicki, but it’s aimed at someone I’m not.

Orphan Calvin gets pushed around a lot at his orphanarium, and all he wants is to have a family. When a pair of used basketball shoes fall into his possession (that were apparently owned by ‘some tall bald dude who was good at basketball when he was a kid’) he has them thrown onto high voltage electricity wires by the bully of the month. Rescuing them by night, they take a shock from lightning and suddenly Calvin Cambridge (Lil Bow Wow) can play basketball ‘like Mike’ (that’s Michael Jordan for the rest of us).

"Wow! You’re like some weird basketball Cinderella!"

So, now he gets granted a spot on the Knights team and begins a rocky relationship with Tracy Reynolds (Morris Chestnut) the star of the team. Calvin’s inimitable charm finally wins over Tracy’s exterior gruffness and, before long, the two are hangin’ together all the time. But, the evil orphanage owner Mr Bittleman (Crispin Glover at his menacing best) knows about the shoes and puts them in his safe so he can win big when the Knights lose. Now, with just minutes to spare they have to get rid of Bittleman, get the shoes and win the game!

There’s nothing new in this script, and what’s funny is this guy is practically fresh out of scriptwriter’s school. Imagine every childhood cliché you can, and it should turn up here somewhere. Be it all the room service you can eat, motorised scooters or tying up the baddie with duct tape, we got it all (not to mention a kid playing in the NBA). Seemingly created with sales and promotion of the sport/merchandise as a priority, this film is even made in association with NBA Entertainment. There’s plenty of product placement about, and seemingly a great opportunity for that old storyline It-was-never-the-shoes-it-was-you, but thankfully that’s one cliché that doesn’t show itself.

However, grumpy 30-something reviewer’s jadedness aside, the kids will no doubt go for this in a big way. There's plenty of stuff to keep them laughing or imagining how good it would be or even just recognising the tons of player cameos throughout (if they’re that into basketball anyway). It’s harmless enough, with a deliciously campy Crispin Glover preformance and a host of other supporting talent that seem to be having fun with their roles. Parents could enjoy it with the littler gang if need be and there are even a couple of subtle gags for them thrown in as well.

  Video
Contract

Coming out just last year, this Fox transfer is naturally immaculate. Full crisp colours and sharp definition give us a wonderfully clear picture. Sometimes the transfer is so good it betrays the dodgy computer animation, which is unfortunate, but otherwise the film looks great. Shadows are richly detailed, the night shots are clear and there are no film artefacts that I could see. About a zillion different skin tones are in this film and they all look natural and even, while there is also no evidence of compression trouble either, giving the whole thing a very nice look overall.

  Audio
Contract

Gold old Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 rounds out the mostly clear dialogue of this film. There are some instances of characters mumbling or slurring words that may be harder to pick up, but for the most part it’s all well spoken. Sound effects are Stock Town with basketball swishes and swooshes all over the place. The thrumming of motorised scooters sound pretty familiar too, but they aren’t around long.

Musically the film is dynamite. Lil Bow Wow himself performs the leading track Basketball (big stretch there) and it sounds sensational. Like I said, I’m not a big fan of the young fella’s work, but it suits the film perfectly with its phat beats and, erm... such.

  Extras
Contract

Firstly a mildly animated menu introduces us to our contestants with the first of these being the audio commentary. I rarely speak about these, but it seems Lil Bow Wow can talk and talk. He, alongside Jonathan Lipnicki and director John Schultz, takes us through the film and it is his voice that dominates proceedings. Schultz leads the boys into a lot of things, asking questions and offering some inside information about certain things and on the whole it’s not that great a commentary, but the kids might enjoy it, surprisingly.

Next up comes the six-minute ‘making of’ featurette. The usual stuff here and not much to write home about. Follow it with the deleted scenes, of which there are three montages. These consist of unused basketballer soundbites, an unused Lil Bow Wow dating sequence and unused parent interviews. All were thankfully edited as they are pretty boring, however the ‘parents’ one may find a laugh or two.

Lil Bow Wow’s funky Basketball music video comes on next and this is pretty cool actually. Running for 3:35, this is suitably hip-hoppy for the film and a cool inclusion for the homies. Much better than the weakarse music promo bit which is basically one of the 15 second advertisements advertising the film soundtrack for TV.

Lastly, there’s a very interesting ‘making of’ documentary that is way more engaging than the shorter featurette listed above. Running for 21 minutes, this is a videotaped behind the scenes style thingo that goes from rehearsals and cast readings through to completed film. Quite good in that it contains the backstage stuff they don’t usually show plus, of course, plenty of interviews with cast and crew as the production travels through week to week.

I'd like to make a mention about composite photographs made up on computers for DVD case artwork. Why are they mostly so crap? The photograph(s) on the reverse side of this case has Jonathan Lipnicki's arm way too long for his body (among other flaws). What's up with that?

Anyhoo, a fairly busy agenda for the extraphiles with some worthy inclusions and some of the usual filler materials.

  Overall  
Contract

Kids into basketball will find lots to keep them entertained on this DVD, with the film itself being more suitable to someone a bit younger than myself. A mostly worthy collection of extras and a perfectly transferred film create a fairly good value DVD with some memorable rewatchable moments for the younger fans.


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      And I quote...
    "Lil Bow Wow’s debut acting feature shows this kid can do anything he sets his mind to. Pity the storyline's a bit of a gimme..."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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