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Like Mike 2: Streetball

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 12/31/06 15:47:42

"Because every kid loves wearing a stranger's sweaty, fungus-filled shoes."
1 stars (Sucks)

If you’ve been aching to see the kid from “Bad Santa” in cornrows, then a) there is something seriously wrong with you; and b) “Like Mike 2: Streetball” is the direct-to-video sequel for you.

Yes, there is a point in this film where Brett Kelly, who is very, very pasty in his whiteness, shows up with his curly golden locks pulled back in some sort of braid-unit-thing, and I’m really hoping that this kid, who has shown so much promise elsewhere and who will hopefully go on to greater things, will look back on this movie and laugh like crazy at the stupid things he had to do to build a career.

But I’m getting away from the point, which is this: “Like Mike” was a terrible, contemptible kiddie movie that couldn’t even provide a decent moral (in case you’ve forgotten, the lesson learned in that flick was something along the lines of “you’ll never amount to anything unless you have magic shoes”), but it was just enough of a hit for Fox to churn out a barely-related sequel for the video market in hopes of grabbing a few bucks from unsuspecting parents of kids who like basketball in their movies.

Once again we have some kid finding a pair of sneakers with the mysterious initials “M.J.” inscribed within. They obviously contain the magic basketball powers of Michael Jordan, because they’re not Milla Jovovich’s size. Anyway, this time the kid is Jerome (Jascha Washington), who, while watching a streetball tournament, winds up making an impossible basket, again and again, much to the dismay of the professional team that tours the nation challenging locals to streetball tournaments. Naturally, the wise coach decides to put the kid on his team, and he becomes a superstar - because apparently teams that travel the nation playing in streetball tournaments are top news.

As you’d expect, Jerome winds up letting the fame go to his head, etc., etc. In the “Like Mike” tradition, messages are jumbled and poorly thought out; here, you only learn that winning isn’t everything after you’ve lost a big game. There’s a subplot involving one of Jerome’s teammates whose father disapproves of him… until he starts doing well in the game, which tells kids, I suppose, that your parents will never love you unless you’re winning. There’s an entire bit at the end about how having fun is more important than winning, and yet they follow this nugget of wisdom up with a bit of moviemaking that overemphasizes the joy of victory.

When not giving us troubling morals, the movie is busy giving us cheap ones. The filmmakers aren’t even concerned about subtlety, stopping the script to recite lines like “It’s not who’s bigger on the outside that matters, it’s who’s bigger on the inside.” (In case we don’t get it, the actor taps his heart while saying all of this.) There’s also an entire plotline tossed in about how the touring team hasn’t learned how to rely on teamwork, and if you’re thinking that they’ll whip into shape for the big finish, you’d only be half right: they whip into shape, but then they’re strangely written out of the entire third act. Where did they go? How could their entire storyline be dropped? How could the filmmakers do such a thing?

Oh, that’s right - this is a hastily crafted DTV sequel. Complaining about sloppy writing in “Like Mike 2” is like complaining about a lack of horsepower in a used Geo Metro.

“Like Mike 2” isn’t nearly as obnoxious as its predecessor, mainly because it’s aiming much lower, with a script that feels like it was tossed together in an afternoon and a cast that was hired exclusively for their court skills and not their acting ones. (The exception is Kel Mitchell, hired because somebody thought he’d be hilarious as Jerome’s greasy cousin who pushes him into crass endorsement deals. His role is so obnoxious that every time he’s on screen, you begin to long for the scenes that feature basketball stars blandly reciting their poorly memorized lines.) It may be slightly better off than the first movie, but it’s still irritating, cheap, and completely useless. I can’t imagine anyone clamoring for this movie to be made, and I can’t imagine anyone expecting it to be any good. Worry not: your expectations will be met.

(This review has been reprinted with kind permission from DVD Talk and the author, who is me. For details on the DVD release, please visit www.DVDTalk.com.)

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