The plot for Like Mike has been almost entirely stolen from the British film Theres Only One Jimmy Grimble (2000), which had a young boy finding a pair of soccer boots that previously belonged to a star player that were magically empowered and transformed him into a sensation on the field able to turn around the teams losing streak. Like Mike substitutes the all-American sport of basketball for soccer but could otherwise be the same plot transplanted across the channel. Jimmy Grimble was a modestly likeable film but Like Mike feels like a childrens film/sports fantasy entirely by the numbers.
The bizarrely monikered Lil Bow Wow (a kid rapper more mundanely born as Shad Moss) gives an insipid performance one would have far preferred to see the lower-billed Jonathan Lipnicki of Jerry Maguire (1996) and The Little Vampire (2000) fame in the lead role. On the other hand, Morris Chestnut, an increasingly underrated actor with everything that one sees him in, has a very likeable charisma. The middle of the film at least becomes a passable, if entirely predictable, rehash of the well-worn story of an adult lumbered with a responsibility he doesnt want becoming a grudging substitute parent and eventually warming to the task.
The problem that one had here was of the eminent predictably of the arcs that both the central characters have Morris Chestnuts Tracy has the role of the one who will adopt Lil Bow Wow virtually stamped on his forehead from the moment he agrees to accept the task of rooming with him. In fact, everything about the film is completely predictable the villainy trying to sabotage Lil Bow Wow; that Bow Wow is chosen by a family who seem absolutely perfect but are also not the right ones; that his shoes will collapse just when the team is one point away from winning and that Lil Bow Wow will triumph nevertheless by realising that the real magic comes from within. Things eventually degenerate to tiresome slapstick chases with kids on scooters and the villains car ending up dumped in the drink. The biggest complaint one might make as a non-American is that Like Mike is a film that is made solely for American audiences and has almost zero appeal in terms of its sports references anywhere outside of the country.
Like Mike 2 (2006) was a sequel.
John Schultz went onto direct one other genre film with Aliens in the Attic (2009). He has also made the likes of Drive Me Crazy (1999), The Honeymooners (2005) and Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (2011).