Sporting a lower profile than many of Michael J. Fox's other screen vehicles, this is a low-key charmer of a family comedy scripted and co-produced by Marc Lawrence, a key member of the creative team behind Fox's long-running sitcom "Family Ties."
Michael Chapman (Fox) is a former child TV star--the film's title is also the title of his series--who exploits his former fame as a New York City child talent agent to obtain marginal auditions for pint-sized hopefuls recruited during open auditions at his office. Mostly, however, he would
rather play street hockey with the neighborhood kids or give "private auditions" to grown-up aspiring actresses than tend to business, much to the irritation of Michael's brother and partner Ed (Nathan Lane).
With the imminent defection of their obnoxious, egotistical top-earning client Barry Corman (David Krumholtz) to a bigger agency, Ed plans to dissolve the company until Michael has his pocket picked by charismatic street kid Angie Vega (Christina Vidal), whom he decides to represent. The product
of a broken home, Angie lives with a dimwitted older sister and her goony boyfriend in Brooklyn. After Angie gets her sister to sign release papers, Michael wheedles an audition for her with cookie king Mr. Corcoran (David Huddleston), winning her a potentially lucrative assignment. Michael also
acquires a new roommate when Angie decides to leave her sister and move in with him.
Michael cleans up his act, and Angie enrolls in school while preparing to shoot her first cookie commercial. After filming begins, however, Corcoran's lawyers discover that Angie's father, whom she'd been telling everybody was dead, is actually alive and well in an upstate drug rehab center.
Angie's dad (an uncredited Ruben Blades), whom Michael discovers to be not a bad guy, signs a new contract. But he is uncomfortable with Angie's and Michael's living arrangement and asks that Angie move back with her sister.
Angie soon returns to her life of street crime and gets arrested for shoplifting on Christmas Eve. Michael bails her out of trouble with his residual kid-star charm, but the agency is once again threatened when Corcoran insists that the expenses connected with Angie's original fraudulent
contract come out of her fee. After being reunited with Michael, Angie saves the day once again by applying a little muscle to Barry, "convincing" him to return to the Chapman and Chapman fold. Celebrating their good fortune at their office Christmas party, it looks as though lightning will strike
yet again for Chapman and Chapman when they're serenaded by a little girl with a big voice (Anaysha Figueroa) who walks in off the street.
With its cast drawn largely from the New York theater scene under the direction of Broadway veteran James Lapine (following up his auspicious film debut IMPROMPTU), MIKEY is unsurprisingly a sugar-coated valentine to hard-knocks East Coast attitude and the show business spirit with just enough
smarts and hard edges to keep it from inflicting sugar shock. Its plot is even less surprising while skirting some thornier angles, such as exactly where Angie will sleep Christmas night after bolting a second time from her sister and her sister's abusive boyfriend, who has stolen Angie's first
check from the cookie makers. However, it's the underlying darkness in the film that finally makes its characters' energy and resilience appealing and poignant. If MIKEY's plot and resolution are sheer fantasy, its motivations are not. Angie's problem childhood is treated with enough seriousness
to make it credible without weighing down the comedy. A similar sadness permeates Michael's life as he spends too much time watching videotapes of his old show. No less than talented newcomer Vidal, Fox brings a strong behavioral credibility to a character whose career peaked before he was old
enough to enjoy it, without letting his performance descend either to self-pity or self-indulgence.
MIKEY emerges as less an exercise in feel-good wish-fulfillment, than a study in characters who learn from the disappointments and adversities in their lives. Though eliciting more smiles and quiet chuckles than big laughs, MIKEY is nevertheless the kind of movie that manages to hold a place in
the heart after bigger and noisier movies fade to inconsequence.
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG
- Review: Sporting a lower profile than many of Michael J. Fox's other screen vehicles, this is a low-key charmer of a family comedy scripted and co-produced by Marc Lawrence, a key member of the creative team behind Fox's long-running sitcom "Family Ties." Micha… (more)