Imagine a cross between The Karate Kid and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and you’ll know what to expect from Sidekicks, an off-beat family-audience opus from, of all people, action star Chuck Norris.
Norris’ presence dominates pic, but the lead character is a day-dreaming teen (Jonathan Brandis), an asthmatic outsider who’s mocked by many of his peers, harassed by most of his teachers, and ignored by his computer-programmer dad (Beau Bridges). So the boy seeks refuge in heroic fantasies where he is the brave and resourceful sidekick of his favorite action movie hero (Norris).
Film is peppered with moderately clever daydream sequences modeled after (and featuring brief excerpts from) such Norris movies as Missing in Action, Lone Wolf McQuade and The Hit Man.
Coached by the sage uncle (Mako) of his only compassionate teacher (Julia Nickson-Soul), Brandis quickly picks up enough martial arts skill to compete in a karate tournament against his school’s worst bully (a punkish John Buchanan).
Brandis is appealing and persuasively intense; Danica McKellar is passably sweet as a classmate who feels sorry for, then falls for him.