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Film / Like Mike

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He's hanging with the big boys now!

Like Mike is a 2002 comedy-fantasy film, directed by John Schultz and written by Michael Elliot, that centers around a boy named Calvin Cambridge (Lil Bow Wow), who gets basketball talents after finding a pair of Michael Jordan's old shoes.

Calvin and his best friends, Murph (Jonathan Lipnicki) and Reg Stevens (Brenda Song) live in an orphanage. Being the youngest, Murph has the closest relationship with Calvin. By night, they sell chocolate for an awkward director, Stan Bittleman (Crispin Glover), after every home game of an NBA, the Los Angeles Knights.

On one night of chocolate sales, Calvin meets the Knights' Coach Wagner (Robert Forster), who is impressed with his knowledge about basketball and his honesty about the chocolate that he offers him tickets to the next game. Later, in a thrift shop donation box, Calvin finds a pair of sneakers with the initials "MJ" and decides they were once Michael Jordan's shoes.

At the Knights basketball game, the team's star player Tracy Reynolds (Morris Chestnut) prepares for a halftime contest. Calvin's ticket number is called and he goes one on one with Tracy. Calvin ends the contest with a dunk after bouncing the ball off the backboard and Calvin joins the team.

A standalone sequel, titled, Like Mike 2: Streetball was released in 2006.

Tropes for Like Mike:

  • Big Bad: Bittleman turns out to be one.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Calvin plays an older sibling role to Murph.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Stan Bittleman, who acts like a nice cool guy but is really a scheming egomaniac who will do anything he can to screw people and kids over.
  • Brand X: Despite the fact that NBA Entertainment co-produced Like Mike, several real-world NBA teams are depicted as opponents in the game scenes and the film is set in Los Angeles, instead of using the Lakers or Clippers, we get the in-universe Los Angeles Knights.
  • The Bully: Ox (and his gang) is this and, later on, Bittleman's dragon.
  • Children Raise You: What becomes of Calvin and Murph getting adopted by Tracy.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Neither Calvin nor any of the other characters of this film make an appearance in the sequel.
  • Education Mama: Sister Theresa plays this role, with her emphasis that Calvin does his homework, even before his team even plays an NBA game.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Calvin is this mostly but the same would apply to Reg and Murph.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Ox at the end, when Calvin manages to convince him that Bittleman doesn't really care about the orphans, which leads him to turn on Bittleman and help Calvin make it to the game. Afterward, its shown he's become a Bully Turned Buddy.
  • Jerkass: Bittleman, he's rude, conniving, threatens to burn Murph's only photo of his mother, and brazenly insults the orphans, specifically Ox.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: This is implied to be what happened to Bittleman, as he went "missing", when he couldn't pay back his debts.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: MJ's sneakers become Magical Accessories after being struck by lightning.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Michael Jordan's sneakers.
  • One Season Athlete: Calvin Cambridge is given shoes worn by a former basketball legend, spends most of the movie playing for the Los Angeles Knights NBA team. He retires after the team makes the playoffs because the shoes break, robbing him of his athletic talent.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Murph, to which his name is short for "Murphy".
    • Reg, which we can guess her name is short for "Regina".
    • Ox, as he's not called anything else.
  • Orphanage of Fear: The orphanage, because of Bittleman's greed.
  • Orphanage of Love: Outside of Bittleman's gambling and other antics, the orphanage is a pretty nice place for the kids. When the Knights take it over, it becomes this.
  • Parental Abandonment: Calvin, Reg, and Murph. While it's not quite said what happened to their parents, it's heavily implied that they all died.
  • Shout-Out: To Annie in the candidate montage.
  • Stage Parent: While he's not a parent but a legal guardian, Bittleman starts acting like this when he finds out how profitable Calvin's talents are.
  • Spell My Name with an S: According to Wikipedia and the credits, Bittleman's surname is spelled "Bittleman" but some might spell it "Biddleman".
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Calvin is a teenager and, as anyone can tell you, it's harder to adopt out a teenager.
    • Because he's a minor, Calvin can't use any of the money he makes from playing on the team, until he's eighteen or adopted.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Ox and his crew spend their time picking on Calvin and his friends and even ripping apart Calvin's jersey after beating him on a 1-on-1 match for it.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: An Invoked and Justified Trope. Once Calvin gets the magic sneakers, he becomes a cash cow for Bittleman, the owner of his Orphanage of Fear. Naturally, this makes Bittleman very reluctant when Calvin asks him to keep looking for adoption possibilities, and he presents Calvin with a montage of candidates, most of whom are blatantly insane. Of course, Calvin is fully aware that Bittleman is deliberately screening out anyone who might be a possibility, but can't really do anything about it.
  • Threw My Bike on the Roof: Ox takes the MJ sneakers from Calvin and tosses them on an overhead telephone pole wire.
  • Title Drop: "Make me like Mike."
  • Tragic Keepsake: Murph's picture of his mother. Later, Bittleman uses this to his advantage when he threatens to burn it to get Murph to cooperate.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Reg disappears half-way through the film, aside from crowd scenes. We eventually find out she was adopted by another family but she keeps in touch with Calvin and Murph.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Played for Drama as the teenaged Calvin, Murph and Ox are all regularly passed over for adoption in favor of the adorable small children at the orphanage. Ox lampshades it by remarking that everyone wants to adopt puppies but no one wants a grown dog.