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KICKING AND SCREAMING (PG) (2005)

Universal Pictures

Official Site

Director: Jesse Dylan

Producer: Jimmy Miller

Written by: Leo Benvenuti & Steve Rudnick

Cast: Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Mike Ditka, Kate Walsh, Dylan McLaughlin, Josh Hutcherson, Musetta Vander

Rating:


I really hate kids’ sports movies. I really, really hate them—every one. Each kids’ sports flick presents a team full of quirky, talentless scrubs that always loses. The team gets a new coach. The team has maybe one player who is actually good and scores the points/wins the games. And of course, the moral of the story—winning isn’t everything, it’s about having fun. But even though winning isn’t everything, the movie always climaxes with the quirky scrubs miraculously becoming talented and pulling out the crucial victory. Okay, so winning doesn’t matter, but they win anyway? I’m just saying, that’s a pretty funny way of Hollywood always trying to teach the same lesson.

In Kicking And Screaming the talentless scrub team is the Tigers, and the new coach is Phil Weston (Ferrell), a clumsy vitamin salesman. He’s always been a disappointment to his little league soccer coach father, Buck (Duvall), who of course is the victory-obsessed antagonist. Phil took the job after his dad traded Phil’s son to the Tigers and the original coach went AWOL. So obviously Phil wants to get his son into the game and prove something to his dad. Naturally, the pressure of being a loser becomes too much, and Phil goes to get help from Buck’s belligerent neighbor, Mike Ditka (himself, sadly). Phil and Mike recruit two Italian soccer prodigies and butcher apprentices to win all the games. Along with a java addiction and way too much adulation, Phil becomes an even bigger spaz than before—the very thing he hated. But you know, five minutes into the film even a novice can figure it out.

I love Will Ferrell. When Ferrell was part of the SNL cast, he was the best and most talented performer on the show. When he left, I stopped watching. There was a void in Will Ferrell’s absence that could never be filled. Will Ferrell is a great comedic talent, but he’s not demonstrating that in this movie. I thought he wanted to move on from SNL, but he’s still doing his tired SNL shtick here. And while I suppose some people think Will Ferrell yelling at and basically beating up kids as he descends into overzealous behavior is a recipe for comedy, I didn’t find much of that material particularly humorous.

Robert Duvall, another fantastic talent, is similarly unlikable here. Duvall looked bored—waiting for his next paycheck. What’s sad is, Duvall has played a soccer coach before, in a great movie called A Shot At Glory, which was a significantly more competent and engaging experience than this hacked-together piece of crap. If you want to see a real soccer or “football” movie starring Robert Duvall, check that one out. It’s also got the real Hannibal Lecter, Brian Cox.

Kicking And Screaming was directed by Jesse Dylan. To those who didn’t know, Jesse Dylan is the talentless hack son of Bob. He’s also the director responsible for the cinematic excrement that was How High and American Wedding. Now Jesse, you’ve just hit your third strike. While it may seem like your movies are making money now, sooner or later it’s going to stop, and you’ll have to be on your knees begging brother Jakob to sound op the next Wallflowers concert. Just kidding, but seriously… stop making movies.

—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



none now
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