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.

 

 
 

For Your Consideration: LADY DANGER!


This week’s post, I’ve given the reigns over to my good friend over at First World Failure, who’s shaking up the format a bit and giving us a compilation of movies meant to inspire us to safety…
Summer’s almost over gang, and it’s time to think about “back to school.” For ladies, whether you’re in high school or college, this means a number of things: Deciding which ankle length skirt is your go to first day of school skirt. Buying all the school supplies so you can highlight your notes in three different colors. Trying not to get raped/murdered. Wait…what!?!  
It’s true. The world is a dangerous place, and there was nothing like made for TV movies from the 90s to make us aware of it. High school and college are dangerous places (unless you’re homeschooled), and we’ve put together a wonderful collection of cautionary tales to keep you safe from the prom to the frat party and everywhere in between.  
1.       A Friend to Die Foraka Death of a Cheerleader (1994) – We’ve all been there. Maybe you’re not the prettiest girl in school. Maybe your family doesn’t buy you a new car to drive. Maybe you become obsessed with a popular girl and then try to fly too close to the sun with your wax wings. All Kellie Martin wanted to be was to be one of the popular girls and Tori Spelling just won’t let her. Maybe if Tori was raised to have better manners she wouldn’t be getting the business end of a butcher knife. I think that’s a lesson we can all get behind – don’t be a megabitch who throws around the insult “freak” like it was going out of fashion.  
      Fun Fact: The highest rated TV movie of 1994.
2.    
          Co-ed Call Girl aka Her Deadly Secret (1996) – College is expensive. From meal plans to off campus apartments near the beach, the college experience isn’t something we can buy with savings bonds gifted from Grandma anymore. The first step to enjoying this movie is buying that Tori is poor. The second step is buying that Tori is a “bookish” college student. If anything, she’s “magazine-ish”. Tori just wants a little spending money as a college student, and thanks to a practical joke we find her at a Malibu-based escort service.   
      Casting Gold: Keep your eyes peeled for Barry Watson of 7th Heaven fame and Jeri Ryan of Star Trek: Voyager.  

  No One Would Tell (1996) – This is a great movie that shows what happens when a woman Just. Won’t. Listen. Fred Savage attempts to distance himself from Kevin Arnold and toward “serious actor” by playing an abusive boyfriend. It’s not too much of a leap for the audience, because Fred is the nicest kind of abuser. You know, the kind who makes you want to look the other way while he drags Candace Cameron into the locker room to change into some modest track pants. The title doesn’t lie – literally nobody has a problem with Fred’s anger problems. No one, that is, except for Sally Jessie Raphael who plays a judge and sets everyone straight in the end.

Fun Fact: SJR was on fire for acting in 1996, appearing in episodes of Touched by an Angel and Diagnosis Murder. 

4.       She Cried No (1996) – Why Mark-Paul Gosselaar, WHY!?! In an attempt to distance himself from his Saved By The Bell persona who was merely “mischievous”, MPG takes a role as a frat boy rapist (because thanks to Fred Savage, “murderer” was taken). Is there anything that Candace Cameron couldn’t do in 1996? She can’t get MPG convicted in court, but she’ able to put him in his place in math class AND by defaming him on television.  
        I like how this TV movie expands her role of “rape victim” by giving her characteristics such as “good at math” and “amateur detective.”  Amateur detective? YES. She tracks down video footage of MPG being a douchy date rapist and broadcasts it on television. AKA: This movie was also called “Freshman Fall”.
       Fun Fact: Kathleen Rowell, writer of She Cried No, also penned the teen drama favorite “The Outsiders”. 
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