SIDEKICKS (1992)


Sidekicks is a 1992 movie starring Jonathan Brandis and Chuck Norris. I remember loving this movie as a kid because I loved anything Jonathan Brandis did. Ladybugs? I’m in. Talking dolphins on Seaquest DSV? You’re selling and I’m buying, Jon. So when a movie combines karate, Asian stereotypes, and Beau Bridges, you’ve got a winner. 

Where do we start? OK, this is Barry, or “Barry Warry” as all the mean kids who are bad at coming up with demeaning nicknames call him. 
Here are two things you should know about Barry: 
First, he has asthma. This is a major plot point because it means he has to sit out of gym class and gets rides to and from school. Basically Barry is lazy, and if I knew all you had to fake was an asthma attack, Beth would have been sitting on the sidelines in gym class too. But I digress. Barry is not the kind of person who could be good at karate, on account of his “asthma”…or is he?
Second things to know about Barry? He has a creepy obsession with Chuck Norris and often imagines fantasy scenarios where they do karate and other assorted badass things together. 

Carrying machine guns through the jungle? Check.

Taking care of business in an old west saloon (where Barry orders milk – C’mon, Barry! Work with me)? Check.

Nice matching mullets, guys. I feel compelled to tell you that the plot of this fantasy is that they are trying to stop some villains from putting ground up razor blades into bubble gum. Barry, I don’t even know how to help you with this. 

And climbing the rope in gym class? Sure, whatever it takes to overcome your debilitating asthma. Can I interject here to say that I think it’s especially sad that even in Barry’s fantasies, he’s the sidekick? Nobody dreams of being Robin. It’s YOUR dream, kid. Be Batman. 
Moving on, Barry’s teacher decides her uncle will teach Barry karate, because he’s Asian and I guess nobody on this movie was aware The Karate Kid had already been made. 

This is Mr. Lee. What’s his answer for getting rid of Barry’s asthma? Running! That’s right, he basically tells him to “walk it off.” Junior High gym teachers around the country are patting themselves on the back for their timeless wisdom.

Stone Dojo doesn’t like Barry’s new non-asthma swagger! 

Good thing ladies are impressed by fighting. I’d like to note here that this movie takes place in Texas, and we’ve yet to hear an accent from ANYONE. 

Now we’re at the Texas Karate Tournament and who’s going to join Barry’s team? Chuck Norris. This is believable because when Chuck isn’t kicking ass he really does seem this nice. What’s not believable is that the people of Texas would get this riled up for a sporting event that wasn’t “wrassling” or Nascar. 

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s lose the big karate tournament when Joe Piscapo runs your dojo. 
Barry and his team have won the big karate tournament. Was there ever any doubt? Here’s some Sidekick Trivia to part with:
  1.   Chuck Norris did this as a favor to his brother, who is the director. Chuck is officially the nicest person in America. 
  2.  Chuck’s son, Eric Norris, plays one of the bikers in the restaurant scene and is listed as Biker #4 in the credits. 
  3.   The writers of the film had no problem including the racial slur “chink” no less than three times in the first scene with Mr. Lee. 
  4.     It is unknown whether Jonathan Brandis really had to learn any karate for this movie.   
  5.  Jonathan Brandis did not have asthma in real life. 
  6.  Beau Bridges doesn’t like to talk about his time on Sidekicks.