Best for: All ages will enjoy this family film.
The plot: Orphan Calvin Cambridge (rap star Bow Wow) dreams of being adopted by a family like the ones he sees on TV. When a nun delivers donated clothes, Calvin discovers an old pair of sneakers (with the initials "MJ") that he's sure once belonged to Michael Jordan. Once he puts the shoes on, he discovers he can miraculously slam-dunk the basketball and do much more. At an L.A. Knights half-time show, Calvin gets to take part in a slam-dunk contest, where his basketball skills are seen by the general manager (Eugene Levy) and the coach (Robert Forster), who ask him to join the team as a way to boost sagging attendance. Through his experience, Calvin gets to meet famous NBA players, expose his creepy orphanage director (Crispin Glover), realize who his best friends are, makes peace with the orphanage bully (Jesse Plemons) and gets close to teammate Tracey Reynolds (Morris Chestnut), who learns a few things from Calvin as well. Anne Meara also stars.
The good: This movie surprised me. I thought it would be a dog (sorry - had to squeeze in at least one pooch pun), but director John Schultz has delivered a story that, despite some clichés, still entertains with its likable stars, "feel-good" moments and cute dialogue. The movie is geared for kids, but it deals with adult themes like adoption, jealousy, greed, the importance of family, confronting our fears and the responsibility that comes with playing professional sports. Cute scenes show Calvin teaching Tracey how to rap, Tracy helping Calvin with his geometry homework and Calvin matching his playing skills with Stephon Marbury, David Robinson, Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter. Calvin also has to confront his fear of the dark by sleeping with a night light. His one-on-one time with Tracey includes lessons about being truthful, sticking to your word and saying their prayers on their knees.
The bad: Most of the negative things end up teaching the characters lessons, so parents may need to talk about some of these issues with their kids afterward. Calvin has to deal with a bully in the orphanage that terrorizes everyone and one character turns out to be a greedy liar who uses Calvin and others to make money for himself. He also calls Ox an "idiot," burns a kid's only picture of his mom and steals Calvin's shoes.
Offensive language and behavior: A few cuss words, some crude dialogue and a couple of religious exclamations.
A little scene I thought was kind of mean was Calvin telling a couple (who have decided to adopt him) to wait in the parking lot for him after a game but he leaves them waiting there (after everyone has left the parking lot) and decides to go back to the orphanage (because they aren't the right parents for him) without telling them - not "OK" behavior.
Sexual situations: Tracey brings a woman back to his hotel room after a date, but they only end up helping Calvin with his tummy ache. Cheerleaders are seen in somewhat revealing attire but nothing kids don't see on TV during the games.
Violence: There are the necessary scenes of the villain being mean to the kids and there's a scene where the kids tie him to a chair, a chase scene involves men chasing after Calvin and friends to get the sneakers back, a couple of bully scenes where kids get pushed around and held down.
Parental advisory: The movie has several positive lessons. All ages will enjoy it, although the issues listed above may require some parental discussion afterward. Kids who are adopted may be a little sensitive to some of the comments made (the bully says visiting would-be parents view the older kids as "dogs" and adds "they only want the puppies," meaning the younger kids), but in the end, a positive lesson prevails.
It's a wrap: I was going to conclude with a clever rap, but I'll leave that to Bow Wow. Like Mike is an entertaining family film with several great lessons. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would!