Like Mike (2002)
2nd June 2003
Calvin is a basketball mad fourteen year old and like most American children he longs to be a famous sports star. However, Calvin's life is a little more complicated than most other children as he's an orphan who is use to living off other peoples charity. One day another box of used clothes arrives at the orphanage and whilst rummaging through the box he uncovers a pair of trainers inscribed with "MJ", the initials of his all time basketball hero Michael Jordan. Calvin claims them only for the resident bully to grab them and throw them over a telephone cable.
Determined to get them back Calvin waits until the dead of night and climbs up to retrieve them. But just as he reaches out to grab the trainers the shoes are stuck by a bolt of lightning sending both Calvin and the shoes tumbling to the ground. However, upon trying on the shoes Calvin discovers that his basketball abilities are vastly improved and he can out jump and out play all of his friends. When the group attend a local Knights basketball match Calvin is the lucky winner of a chance to take on one of the team pros in a face off. Wearing his magical trainers he beats the pro-player with ease and attracts the eye of team boss Frank Bernard.
Calvin is quickly signed to the struggling team with the hope that the youngster will boost the home ticket sales. Unfortunately, Calvin spends all of his time on the bench is his frustrations soon grows. However, as the Knights continue to struggle the coach finally decides to give Calvin a shot. The results are an instant success with Calvin and his magical trainers ripping through the opposition and soon has the team are on their way to the playoffs.
Despite Calvin's new found stardom he still has to cope with Stan Bittleman, the scheming owner of the orphanage, who is determined to stop Calvin being adopted and cash in on his success. Whenever prospective parents visit the orphanage Stan always makes sure that Calvin is introduced to the most inappropriate parents and even has a clause placed in Calvin's contract to make him his manager and control his finances. However, that is only part of the problem as someone in the orphanage has their eyes on his magical trainers and with the playoffs looming Stan has a money making scheme in mind.
For a film of this genre and relatively low profile European release I wasn't really expecting anything from the picture department. However, I was shocked almost to the point of being gob-smacked by the quality of the picture on offer. The colours are wonderfully rich and vibrant with a massive amount of detail and high bit-rate throughout. Although there are a few occasions when the picture is a little grainy there are no signs of any artifacting or outlining. The quality of the print is just as impressive with a picture that is free from dust scratches and whiskers. It's a remarkable feat by Fox and even given the subject matter it's almost good enough to be used as demonstration material.
Like the picture I wasn't expecting anything from the sound department. But, yet again, I was shocked with the quality of the soundtrack. Obviously it not on the same level as an action film, but for a film of this genre the surround channels were remarkably active for the majority of the film. The dialogue is crystal clear in the centre channels whilst the remaining front channels had a remarkable presence. Even the hip-hop soundtrack doesn't over power the soundstage and once a comfortable volume level was set there was never any need to correct it. Impressive stuff indeed.
Even the extras haven't been neglected as there's a reasonable set in the offering with a number of featurettes, deleted scenes and an audio commentary. Whilst the featurettes offer a reasonable insight into the actors and the making of the film the audio commentary is a bit of a disappointment. Like most yak tracks these days it is a little disjointed and not really that interesting to listen to. Even if the kids are fans of Lil Bow Bow they'd struggle to find anything of interest.
Like most Europeans I'm not a fan on American sports so I wasn't really expecting anything from this film. However, upon viewing my opinion of Like Mike was changed for the better and my initial groans upon learning that young rapper Lil Bow Wow was was in the starting role were unfounded. Put it this way, if his singing career fails he would have no problem taking up the acting game.
Although the story is rubbish and the orphanage slant is suppose to make you go "Awwww", it is still a film which can be enjoyed by the entire family, NBA fan or not. That's the strange thing about this film. Whilst it's ultimately aimed at a US audience it can still be enjoyed by all. Put all this altogether and it all adds up to a value package which kids of all ages are sure to enjoy.
- Audio Commentary by John Schultz, Lil Bow Wow and Jonathan Lipnicki
- Featurette "Off the Hook and on the Set"
- Three Deleted Scenes with Optional Director Commentary
- Making of Featurette "Bow Wow's Bow"
- Music Promo
- "Basketball" Music Video