Barry Gabrewski, played by Jonathan Brandis (SeaQuest 2032), is an asthmatic teenager. He is, for the most part, friendless, with the exception of Lauren, a role acted by Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years). She’s nice to him, but she draws the line at being his girlfriend. Barry lives with his father Jerry, a computer programmer, portrayed by three time Emmy winner Beau Bridges (The Second Civil War). He’s raising Barry alone ever since the untimely death of his wife, a decade prior to the start of the film.
Noreen Chan, played by Julia Nickson (Noble House), is Barry’s history teacher. She’s concerned because he frequently drifts off into elaborate dreams while in class. His fantasies always center on him being the heroic sidekick of his idol, martial artist champion Chuck Norris (Walker, Texas Ranger). (As an aside Norris holds a black belt in Tang Soo Do, Brazilian jiu jitsu and judo).
While Jerry is concerned about his son doing well in school, he also wants Barry to be able to defend himself against bullies. Randy Celini (John Buchanan), and his friends, constantly taunt Barry. They sometimes move past verbal put downs and get physical. Jerry agrees to pay for Barry to take karate lessons. The school they go to, run by Kelly Stone, played by two time Emmy nominee Joe Piscopo (Saturday Night Live), doesn’t work out. Stone has a terrible attitude and Barry and his father get a sense that he’s not much better than the bullies, several of whom take his classes.
Ms. Chan thinks she might have a solution to the problem. Her uncle, Mr. Lee, portrayed by Oscar nominee Mako (The Sand Pebbles), is coming to America to oversee her parent’s restaurant. He agrees to teach Barry. During their time together Mr. Lee not only teaches Barry Karate, but also how to be a more confident person, who believes in himself. (As an aside: Mako was considered for the role of Mr. Miagi in the “Karate Kid,” which was played by Oscar nominee Pat Morita).
Can Barry get good enough at karate to stop Randy and his friends from their harassment? Does he ever get to meet his hero Chuck Norris?
“Sidekicks” was directed by Aaron Norris (Top Dog). The screenplay was co-written by Lou Illar and Galen Thompson (The Hitman) based on a story written by Illar. The film premiered in Germany on December 17, 1992. Comprised of the genres of action, adventure, comedy, and drama, the movie has a runtime of 108 minutes. The soundtrack was composed by two time Emmy winner Alan Silvestri (Cosmos: A Space Odyssey). (As an aside: Aaron Norris is the brother of Chuck Norris, who agreed to take a role in the film as a favor to Aaron).
I watched the film a few times years earlier. I hadn’t seen it in a long time, prior to a couple of days ago. This is most definitely family entertainment. There is some violence throughout, but it’s presented in a way that’s not gratuitous and often times it comes across as comedic, purposely so. Overall entertaining, harmless fun, and getting Chuck Norris to participate in the film made all the difference, otherwise, it might have come and gone with little fanfare upon its initial release.