Like Mike (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/12/2002

Three out of Five stars
Running Time; 100 mins

Hoops-loving teen Calvin Cambridge has a dream – to be a famous basketball player. But in a game dominated by giants with incredible athletic abilities and egos to match, his diminutive stature and limited skills make this a far-off fantasy.

All that changes when Calvin puts on a mysterious pair of sneakers inscribed with the faded initials “MJ”. Could these battered trainers have once belonged to NBA legend Michael Jordan? It would explain why Calvin suddenly has the ability to make 25-foot jumps, behind-the-back passes and devastating slam-dunks.

From Zero To Hero

In no time at all, Calvin has swapped the rundown surroundings of the Chesterfield Group Home and its testy, small-minded supervisor Bittleman (Crispin Glover) for a life of fame, riches and unlimited room service. He also finds a new mentor in Tracey Reynolds (Morris Chestnut), formerly the star player of the Los Angeles Knights and now Calvin’s reluctant new roomie.

As feel-good family fables go, Like Mike has a lot in its favour. Lil Bow Wow makes a confident and likeable lead, holding his own against his adult co-stars and showing enough talent to suggest he may have a future in this game once his voice breaks and he puts on a few inches.

American Sport Is Weird

Jonathan Lipnicki – already a veteran after his appearances in Jerry Maguire and the Stuart Little films – gives strong support as Calvin’s best friend Murph, and it’s nice to see Back To The Future’s Crispin Glover back on our screens in a role which plays up to his reputation as a Hollywood oddball.

If there’s a problem here, it’s that British audiences simply aren’t as passionate about basketball as their American counterparts. Consequently, a lot of the terminology and celebrity cameos will go over their heads.

Michael Jordan - Who He?

Indeed, ask a British person what “MJ” stands for and they’ll probably say “Michael Jackson”, especially in the light of his recent baby-dangling antics.

Films like this tend to get released in the UK as part of a package deal. Cinemas only get the likes of Star Wars and Minority Report if they agree to screen this as well.

That’s no reason to dislike Mike, which on its own terms is perfectly serviceable and entertaining fare. It’s just that for every Bend It Like Beckham or There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble, there seems to be a dozen movies about American football, baseball or hockey. Perhaps we should send a film about cricket to the States and see how they like it.

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Content updated: 18/12/2017 11:01

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