Sidekicks (1992)

Chuck Norris? Chuck Norris? He doesn’t compete anymore kid, and the main reason, one of the main reasons he doesn’t compete anymore is me. He doesn’t compete ’cause I would kick his ass.

Synopsis

Barry (Jonathan Brandis, RIP) is an asthmatic kid having trouble in life. He lives with his father, a computer programmer, in Texas. Barry is struggling to get by in life, dealing with his rough school life, bullies, as well as his health. Barry’s only source of enjoyment is fantasizing that he is with Chuck Norris. Barry becomes sick of getting picked on by the bigger guys, and decides to learn karate, in hopes of one day meeting the great Chuck Norris.

Why We Love It

Today is the 70th anniversary of a great day in our history, as you should very well know by now. If you don’t, I believe one of Chuck Norris’ beard hairs is going to impregnate your mother as penance for forgetting his birthday. On this day in 1940, Chuck Norris was born in Ryan, Oklahoma. And in honor of this great man’s date of birth, I’m using Movies We Love to celebrate one of my favorite tour de Chucks — Sidekicks.

Sure, you may try and tell me that it wasn’t that great of a movie, but I would argue that it’s quite possibly the greatest send-up of the kids doing karate genre (also known as the Karate Kid movement) ever to make it to the big, and mostly the small screen. Also, I was 9-years old when this movie was released. The perfect age to be discovering the badassery of Chuck Norris through the eyes of Jonathan Brandis and the perfect age to overlook this film’s many storytelling faceplants. So it holds a special place in my heart. And that, friends, is what this column is all about — movies that we love, even if you don’t. Though, if logic serves me, I’d be willing to bet that there are a few others among you who also have a sweet spot for this movie.

What is most lovable about Sidekicks is the fact that it subtly started the movement of Chuck Norris mythos. Sure, the man was well on his way to becoming one of the great late-night cable action stars in the history of the world by ’92. But an entire generation of would-be internet kids saw this movie, the first of its kind to portray Norris as a mysterious, gigantic figure worthy of totally manufactured folklore. Yes, I’m implying that without Sidekicks, there may never have been Chuck Norris Facts. And without Chuck Norris facts, as you know, the internet would be a meaningless refuge of porn. Thanks Chuck Norris, for giving the world something else to live for besides porn.

Back to the movie, though. It’s the classic hero’s journey, a clichéd underdog story and the quintessential “hey, that famous guy is actually really nice to you if you have asthma” tale all rolled into one. A sickly kid just wants to meet Chuck Norris and kick some ass. Something something something. It ends with Chuck Norris beating the ever-loving shit out of Joe Piscopo. It’s completely absurd, but it works.

Speaking of other people who are in this movie — relics of the 1980s, if you will. How about Beau Bridges as Jerry Gabrewski, the overprotective, but ultimately supportive father? Or Danica McKellar, whome you may know better as Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, as the unreachable hot girl down the street who takes an interest in the unfortunate soul known as Barry Gabrewski. Gosh, this movie has it all, doesn’t it? Everything you need in order to have yourself a good ‘ole 80s acid flashback. If you did acid in the 80s. I didn’t, mind you, because I was a child. It’s probably why I won’t give up on my love for Sidekicks.

Moment We Fell In Love

Sure, almost all of the build-up in this movie is worthy of affection. All of the moments between the wise Mr. Lee (Mako) and Barry, as the kid learns karate and whatnot, are special. And Barry’s dream sequences, in which he fights alongside Chuck Norris in The Delta Force, are awesome as well. But nothing trumps that final fight between Piscopo’s Kelly Stone (a perfectly douchey name, might I add) and Chuck Norris. It’s the mullet versus… well, the other mullet. And it’s awesome, especially if you were 9-years old when you first saw it.

Final Thoughts

Did you know that the only reason Chuck Norris did this movie in the first place was because it was being directed by his kid brother Aaron? He made an homage to himself as a favor. What a gracious man. But seriously, there’s just something special about the childish glory of this film — something that won’t let me turn it off every time I flip over to TNT and see that it’s on.. again. Every time I watch it, I’m transported back to a time when I too wanted to kick some ass alongside Chuck Norris. Long before the internet, long before his tears cured cancer, and long before everyone else in the world cared — I was there. His sidekick, in my badass daydreams.

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