Picks and Pans Review: Sidekicks

updated 05/24/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/24/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Chuck Norris, Jonathan Brandis, Beau Bridges, Julia Nickson-Soul, Mako, Joe Piscopo

Don't get too excited, Chuckles fans. Master Norris is really only a bit player, a Middle-aged Mutant Ninja Has-Been, in this desultory fantasy adventure.

Brandis, 16, is an asthmatic, nerdy Texas high school student who, when not scuffling with the school bully (John Buchanan), has frequent day-dreams (most of them based on 1984's Missing in Action) in which he teams himself with his idol, Norris. His widowed father, Bridges, and his history teacher, Nickson-Soul, eventually hook him up with Nickson-Soul's curmudgeonly uncle, Mako, a restaurant cook who dabbles in martial arts and coaches Brandis, Pat Morita-style, for a big karate tournament.

Piscopo is the main villain, a karate-school instructor who bellows and sneers and continues to bear an old grudge against Norris. Swallowing most of his lines and moving spasmodically, Piscopo gives a herky-jerky performance without much herky in it. The real Norris finally turns up for the tournament, which makes him look pretty lame, since he is essentially a big-time pro beating up on small-timers. (PG)

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