The kiddie basketball fantasy film ”Like Mike” doesn’t open until Wednesday, but it’s already earning thumbs-down from some critics who have a lot of juice. They’re electric companies from coast to coast, which are complaining that the movie could influence kids to emulate star Lil’ Bow Wow, whose character touches a power line and receives a shock that, in real life, would probably prove fatal.
In the movie, the 15-year-old rapper/actor plays Calvin, who climbs up on a roof to retrieve a pair of sneakers dangling from a power line. As he touches the shoes, the cable is struck by lightning, and Calvin and the electrified sneakers hit the ground. He recovers, and the zapped shoes give him Jordan-like hoop skills. In real life, however, the utilities warn that the boy would probably have been electrocuted.
”It’s that element of the story that might encourage younger children to attempt to energize their shoes in a similar manner,” Florida Power warned in a statement. ”Not only is tying shoes together and tangling them in our lines an unsightly nuisance, it also could result in serious injury or death,” said a statement by Southern California Edison. Similar warnings came from Pacific Gas & Electric in California and Tucson Electric Power in Arizona.
PG&E plans to hold two press conferences Wednesday, at which it is expected to criticize Twentieth Century Fox for not following up on the utility’s request to add a disclaimer to the movie about the dangers of touching power lines. However, says Fox spokeswoman Florence Grace, children will know better than to take the incident in the film seriously. ”’Like Mike’ is a fantasy about magic shoes,” she said in a statement. ”The scene is clearly not meant to be real or present behavior to be emulated by youngsters. The film in no way advocates taking dangerous risks of any kind, including touching power lines.”