The teenybop rap star Lil Bow Wow has none of his mentor Snoop Dogg’s surly insolence. He’s sunny and scrubbed — a cherub in street braids. That makes him perfect to play Calvin, a 14-year-old orphan who gets to live out his king-size hoop dreams after he stumbles onto a pair of Michael Jordan’s old Nikes. The moment he puts on the magic shoes, he turns into a zigzagging slam-dunk virtuoso, hitting 30-foot jumpers and flying up to the backboard — a notable feat indeed, considering the kid is only 4 foot 8.
The special effects that accomplish all of this are convincing enough, but Like Mike has the synthetically wrapped pseudo-charm of a perfunctory Flubber sequel. Calvin becomes the star novelty of the L.A. Knights, wowing crowds at the Staples Center, but most of the movie isn’t even set on the basketball court. It is, rather, a will-someone-take-this-child-home sudser, with the charismatic Morris Chestnut trying to liven up the surrogate-daddy role of Calvin’s teammate. There are snoring jokes, room-service jokes, and the noisy thunk of a plot when Calvin gets his sneakers stolen. The kid, quite understandably, wants to keep on flying, but Like Mike barely gets off the ground.