“Kicking and Screaming” – A Real Kick in the Crotch
Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited to a free screening of the new Will Ferrell comedy “Kicking and Screaming”. Unfortunately, the best part about the movie was the fact that it was free.
The plot boils down to a simple story about Phil Weston (Ferrell) in a lifelong battle to live up to the lofty expectations of his father Buck, played by Robert Duvall. Buck is some sort of oddly-obsessive soccer fan, and Phil simply wasn’t the star athlete his father hoped he would be. Flash forward to the present where both Phil and Buck have pre-adolescent kids who play soccer (Duvall married a trophy at the same time Ferrell did, and both boys were born on the same day - Funny idea, but they don’t pay this off in any comedic way). Of course it’s no shocking revelation that Phil’s kid sucks at soccer, and Buck’s son is the star of the team.
Eventually Buck trades his own grandson to another soccer team because he stinks, and Phil decides to coach that team of losers. Phil employs the help of Buck feuding neighbor, Mike Ditka, to help coach the team. Then the writers apply the old classic formula: the loser kids start to win, blah blah, Ferrell becomes an pussy-turned-obsessive coach, blah blah, they make it to the championship game against his father, blah blah, at halftime Phil does a complete 180 and realizes the game is supposed to be fun… and in a startling revelation, the losers kids win the game.
What I didn’t like about this movie was practically everything. I guess Robert Duvall was trying to take a cue from Deniro and be a comedy guy, but he failed miserably. In fact, the saddest thing was that Mike Ditka was funnier than he was – and a better actor! Also I was expecting from the previews that the story would revolved around Will Ferrell being this crazy-obsessed soccer coach Dad, but in actuality he doesn’t become that persona until the end of the movie – and the only reason he does is because he’s drinking too much coffee. Yeah, that’s right…coffee. Of course he had his moments, just because he’s Will Ferrell, but his character was such a pushover wuss that I spent the whole movie waiting for him to become this crazy guy, which he only became for five minutes.
Another unfortunate part of the movie was that the kids were terrible. I know, how can I criticize kid actors? Well, they sucked really bad. No kid was funny, and the main boy (Phil’s son) couldn’t act his way out of a wet paper bag. And two of the kids didn’t speak English, which is always a recipe for comedy. Oh, and one kid ate a worm a couple times.
I think it’s time for Will Ferrell to start choosing his projects more carefully. You’re the “It” funny guy, Will. We get it. That shouldn’t mean you have to take every crappy script that gives you a leading part. However, I AM counting the days until that juicy turd “Bewitched” drops this summer.
Just so you remember that Will Ferrell IS funny, check out the classic “Cowbell” SNL sketch.