It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Sidekicks" is sweet but predictable, the kind of movie where you enjoy the ride but recognize the terrain. Remember the old comic book ads where the bully kicked sand into the eyes of the 90-pound weakling? But then, after the weakling got himself into shape, he came back to beat the bad guy and win the admiring praise of the girls? "Sidekicks" tells the same durable story, and it still works about as well as it ever did.
Jonathan Brandis stars as Barry Gabrewski, a kid who escapes into his daydreams to avoid the realities of his everyday life, in which an asthma condition prevents him from ordinary physical activity. In school, he's mocked by the class bully and also by a particularly unkind physical education teacher, who exists primarily in order to be cruel on demand.
In Barry's fantasies, it doesn't work like that. He imagines himself teaming up with karate movie hero Chuck Norris, to beat up the bad guys and save the girl, who in all of the dreams looks exactly like Miss Chen (Julia Nickson-Soul), his schoolteacher.
Taking pity on the class outcast, Miss Chen introduces him to her uncle, Mr. Lee (Mako), recently arrived from China - so recently, indeed, that he hasn't seen any of "The Karate Kid" (1984) movies and doesn't know his role has been played before.