Film / Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

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Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is a 2003 comedy film directed by Sam Weisman and starring David Spade as Former Child Star Dickie Roberts, who wants to be a star again.

Dickie desperately wants to star in Rob Reiner's upcoming film, but while he has the right basic look Reiner had in mind, he doesn't think Dickie is right for the part, due to the role being a "real person" and Dickie not knowing how a normal person lives, due to not having a normal childhood, so Dickie hires a family to treat him like a child for two months in order to be able to get an audition.


Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: For the very little time she does spend in her son's life, Peggy doesn't think of him as anything more than a means to an end for her. It begins even before he's born: She smokes while she's pregnant and wears an "I'm with Stupid" T-shirt with the arrow pointing down to her belly. She even said her pregnancy only put a damper on her aspirations to stardom... at least until she figured out her kid could do what she was unable to. After Dickie was born, she auditioned him for any possible part, even dressing him as a girl anytime the part called for one. Likely, this was all done without his consent. Then after his successful sitcom stint got canned, she abandoned him completely.
    • She gets no better in the deleted scenes. The next time she sees her son again, he's presumably honeymooning with Grace and Peggy comes to his hotel room. All she can do is embark on a foul-mouthed rant about how she deserves better service than she's getting from the hotel, and all Dickie can do in response is quietly promise her cab fare, presumably because now he'd rather she just left his life altogether.
  • As Himself: Rob Reiner, Brendan Frasier, Dick Van Patten, and many former child stars.
  • The Bully: Sam and Sally get bullied when Dickie picks them up. Dickie embarrasses the bullies for them.
  • Catch-Phrase: On "The Glimmer Gang", Dickie's catch phrase was "This is nucking futs!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: Dickie "borrows" customers' cars from where he works, and causes trouble by pissing off another driver who he reckons won't come looking for him since it's not his car and the windows are tinted so he won't be distinguishable. Turns out the car belonged to Rob Reiner, so having only the plate number to go on the guy mistakenly tracks him down and beats him to within inches of his life; he's injured so badly he needs a new kidney, which Sidney happens to be a match for. Sidney gives up a kidney in exchange for Dickie's audition.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The driver Dickie pisses off.
  • Compliment Backfire: Dickie tells Grace that she's too beautiful to be a mom, but after acknowledging that she obviously is a mom, she might not be as beautiful as he thinks.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Dickie's mother would dress him up for any part that studios were auditioning for. If a studio was auditioning girls, she'd dress him like a girl.
  • Disappeared Dad: Dickie says that he never met his father but claims that his father is David Soul (Hutch from Starsky & Hutch). He later admits this is not true, and that he only has one memory of his actual father.
    • George Finney eventually leaves the family for Dickie's ex. Then she knocks him on the head, leaving him with "walking amnesia", and his most recent whereabouts were that he was hitchhiking into the desert. Safe to say Sam and Sally will probably never see him again.
  • Extreme Doormat: Downplayed, since Grace is pretty firm with her family and Dickie but is a complete doormat to her neighbor Mrs. Gertrude. She'll even apologize for things that she has no control over and that no normal person would complain about, like a tree's leaves falling onto their property. For all his abrasive qualities, though, Dickie does manage to influence Grace into standing up for herself towards them.
  • Foreshadowing: During his first meeting with Rob Reiner, Reiner mentions that he saw Dickie valet parking at a restaurant. It turns out Rob Reiner owned the car that Dickie had "borrowed", resulting in him getting attacked from the driver Dickie had pissed off while driving it.
  • Flipping the Bird: When Grace decides to make Dickie have cereal instead of coffee for breakfast, Dickie looks in, remarks that there's a surprise inside, reaches inside, and flips her the bird upon pulling his hand back out.
  • Former Child Star: On multiple levels. First and foremost there's Dickie himself, followed by minor appearances from many real people who were themselves famous as children. Former child stars, including many who weren't in the main story itself, perform a number about fame and the price they paid for it during the credits.
  • Ghost Story: Dickie and the kids tell scary stories in the treehouse.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Dickie teaches the kids "Shizzle", a secret way to swear.
  • Informed Ability: Though the viewers only see Dickie's day-to-day antics and general wackiness, he is apparently a brilliant actor. He blew away Rob Reiner in his off-screen audition for a drama-heavy role.
  • Jerkass: George Finney is one to his family.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dickie.
  • Karma Houdini: While looking for a celebrity to help get Dickie Roberts to meet with Rob Reiner, Dickie leaves his valet parking job driving a customers car, where he ends up being threatened by a driver who writes down the license plate number, but isn't worried because it's not his car and he had the windows tinted. The car ends up belonging to Rob Reiner, who gets attacked by the man and ends up needing a kidney, which Dickie's agent donates in exchange for letting Dickie audition, and Dickie gets the part, with Rob never finding out that Dickie was responsible.
  • Kick the Dog: When Dickie appears on Celebrity Boxing, he not only gets his butt kicked by Emmanuel Lewis, but the emcee refuses to let the referee throw in the towel, and after Dickie's beaten, the emcee kicks him while he's announcing Emmanuel as the winner.
  • Man Child: Dickie Roberts is this, not just when he's supposed to be treated like a child.
  • Missing Mom: Dickie's mother abandoned him once he lost stardom.
  • No Social Skills: Dickie has a rather warped perception of how to interact with other people since his only role models were apparently Hollywood prima donnas. Did we mention he had little to no parental guidance in his life until he moved in with the Finneys? Because that would certainly do it, too. Everything from expressing his infatuation with Grace to her squicked-out children to shoving a camera down his pants for several pictures of his junk in response to a passerby asking to take his picture... Dickie has issues, to put it lightly.
    • His lack of conversational filter does help Grace to find the stones to stand up to their obnoxious neighbors the Gertrudes, though.
  • Oscar Bait: Rob Reiner's upcoming film, Mr. Blake's Backyard, is clearly meant to be of a high enough quality to win prestigious accolades. Having exhausted all his other options, Dickie decides it's the Oscars or bust - a film of this caliber is the only type of thing that will give him what he's looking for. And you know it's serious when Sean Penn is said to be trying out for the same part...
  • Parental Abandonment: Hmmm... His father was never there, and his mother left when he was a mere child after his show was axed. Yep, surefire "Parents of the Year" award-winners right there.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Dickie faces off in a boxing match against Emmanuel Lewis (4'3") and gets beaten mercilessly. note 
  • Prank Call: Although not done for the sake of a joke (Dickie did it to help the kids mother know what house she was supposed to go to), Dickie calls the fire department about a false fire.
  • Product Placement: Dickie Roberts is a valet parking driver at Morton's.
  • Show Within a Show: Dickie Roberts became a child star from appearing on The Glimmer Gang.
  • Spoonerism: Dickie's childhood catch phrase was "This is nucking futs!"
  • Stacy's Mom: Subverted - Dickie's not actually that much younger than Grace, but is supposed to be pretending to be her son and the brother to her actual children. Nevertheless, he's got the hots for her, and his lack of filter means the other two get to hear all about it. Somehow, it doesn't occur to him that he's supposed to be in character as her other son at all times, so there's no room for him to express a sexual attraction to her.
    Dickie: She's my mom too, and I'm dealing with it SOMEHOW!
    • Not that it matters a whole lot since they do get married in the end and Dickie's research with the family was only supposed to be a month long...
  • Stage Mom: Dickie's mother wanted to be an actress, having to give up her dream when she was pregnant with Dickie, and encouraged Dickie to act (even dressing her son up as a girl if there was a need for a girl role), and left her son when his fame went away.
  • Treehouse of Fun: On Dickie's first night with the family, the kids suggest Dickie sleep in their treehouse, so they won't have to deal with him. He turns it into a cool, retro treehouse, and the kids join him that night.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: In the form of an E! True Hollywood Story documentary.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Downplayed, but that's not really saying much. This is effectively what Peggy said to Dickie as she up and left him; the narration implies she moved out of the area and he was literally left there all by himself, without a home or anyone to take care of him. Pretty much the same thing as just killing him outright, since of course a kid that young can't be expected to look after himself or know what to do to find someone who will take him in.
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