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A harmless, if ultimately inane, fantasy-comedy vehicle for youngsta-rapper Lil' Bow Wow, a 15-year-old who's already an alarmingly accomplished scene stealer. LBW, the kind of kid actor who wields his adorableness as a cudgel, makes his screen debut as Calvin Cambridge, a resident of a Los Angeles orphanage who's chronically depressed by the fact that his...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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A harmless, if ultimately inane, fantasy-comedy vehicle for youngsta-rapper Lil' Bow Wow, a 15-year-old who's already an alarmingly accomplished scene stealer. LBW, the kind of kid actor who wields his adorableness as a cudgel, makes his screen debut as Calvin Cambridge, a resident of a Los Angeles orphanage who's chronically depressed by the fact that his chances of being adopted are slim-to-none, given his relatively advanced age. Calvin's fortunes change, however, when resident nun Sister Theresa (Anne Meara), passes him a pair of donated sneakers reputedly worn by the teenaged Michael Jordan. The sneakers are soon hit by lightning, and when Calvin dons the shoes, voila! — he can play basketball like an NBA pro three times his size. Several improbable plot points later, Calvin catches the eye of two honchos from the fictional L.A. Knights team. After an astounding half-time demonstration of his prowess against the Knight's biggest ace Tracey Reynolds (Morris Chestnut), Calvin signs on as a full-time Knight and becomes a overnight mega-celebrity, much to the chagrin of Reynolds, who's assigned to mentor the prodigy and, worse, room with him on the road. What follows is pretty predictable, and to be honest, any one who at this point can't answer the following questions — Will the Knights make the playoff? Will Calvin be adopted, and by whom? — has probably never been to a movie in his or her life. Worse, many of the film's comic set pieces fall flat, including one creepily irresponsible bit in which the underage Calvin is forced to drive after Reynolds accidentally takes too many sleeping pills. The basketball sequences, however, are a lot of fun — Lil' Bow Wow's most spectacular moves may be computer enhanced, but in general he handles himself well and looks plausible against the film's actual NBA stars. The film's supporting players are aces, including Eugene Levy as the team's general manager, Robert Forster as the nice-guy coach and Crispin Glover, wonderfully eccentric as ever, as the mercenary director of Calvin's orphanage. That said, there's something rather unsettling about the monomaniacal intensity Lil' Bow Wow brings to being the film's center of attention; you get the feeling that, given the chance, he intends to rule the world.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: A harmless, if ultimately inane, fantasy-comedy vehicle for youngsta-rapper Lil' Bow Wow, a 15-year-old who's already an alarmingly accomplished scene stealer. LBW, the kind of kid actor who wields his adorableness as a cudgel, makes his screen debut as Ca… (more)

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