In this kiddie market comedy, Chuck Norris plays himself, stolid, athletic, and squeaky clean, with all the fervor of the public service announcement crime canine who asks you to take a bite out of crime. While never a passionate presence, Norris does have the heroic authority to make
this valentine to himself work.
Saddled with asthma and dissatisfied with his puny size, Barry Gabrewski (Jonathan Brandis) dreams about being just like his martial arts hero Chuck Norris. He daydreams about Norris in the school room, which upsets his teacher Miss Chan (Julia Nickson-Soul); in the gymnasium, which bugs his
macho coach, Mr. Horn (Richard Moll); and everywhere else, which frustrates his well-meaning dad, Jerry (Beau Bridges). Hoping to help his son realize his kung-fu dreams, Mr. Gabrewski tries to enroll him in a martial arts school run by pompous Mr. Stone (Joe Piscopo) who hates Chuck Norris and
coaches bully Randy Celllni (John Buchanan), who habitually torments Barry at school. Shaking Barry out of his reveries, Mr. Gabrewski entrusts him to Miss Chan's colorful Uncle Lee (Mako) who offers his own variation on the KARATE KID School of Self-Defense. Under Lee's tutelage, Barry's asthma
clears up, his athletic prowess impresses Mr. Horn, and his self-confidence soars. Honing his skills, he enters a martial arts competition along with Mr. Lee and Miss Chan. When they need a fourth partner for the tournament, they succeed in persuading Chuck Norris himself, who just happens to be
attending. Daydreams do come true as Chuck whips the jealous Mr. Stone, and Barry outdoes Randy by putting his trained fist through a record nine bricks.
On the surface, SIDEKICKS is a sweet-natured teen misfit movie that celebrates the triumph of the underdog. Viewed from another angle, it's a vanity production for Norris who doesn't have to bother with the pretense of acting, yet gets presented on a silver platter as an icon. Blessed with a
sense of humor, SIDEKICKS tries (with variable results) to send up the Norris image by parodying his action flicks. Far more successful than these silly comedy take-offs are the full-throttle displays of the Norris legwork. Dynamically captured on film, the fantasy kickboxing demos keep SIDEKICKS
pumped up whenever the tenuous heart-tugging or the Mad magazine humor threaten to set the film wheezing.
A liability is SIDEKICKS' use of the by-now-familiar KARATE KID syndrome. One would think that Pat Morita's martial arts mentor is now as mythical a figure as Charlie Chan--he's certainly imitated in enough movies. Here, Mako indulges in the brand of scene-stealing once practiced by Hollywood
divas. Mako's shamelessness prevents Barry's spiritual and physical progress from truly touching us, because he constantly calls attention to himself as an actor. Rivalled by Piscopo's over-the-top excesses, Mako hogs a spotlight which should be focused on the teen protagonist. If karate footwork
enthralls you enough to overlook bad acting and focus problems in the screenplay, then SIDEKICKS will suffice. In poking gentle fun at the martial arts movie genre, it sometimes manages to blend action and comedy. Although a bit self-congratulatory, SIDEKICKS also celebrates the Chuck Norris
mystique without seriously diminishing it.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG
- Review: In this kiddie market comedy, Chuck Norris plays himself, stolid, athletic, and squeaky clean, with all the fervor of the public service announcement crime canine who asks you to take a bite out of crime. While never a passionate presence, Norris does have… (more)