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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.04%
Worth A Look: 29.58%
Average: 23.94%
Pretty Bad36.62%
Total Crap: 2.82%

8 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Kicking & Screaming
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by Scott Weinberg

"Ferrell has only one ball to juggle here, but he does it quite humorously."
3 stars

I expected something along the lines of "The Big Green" or "The Mighty Ducks 3" or (lord help us) and comedic take on the Keanu Reeves turkey "Hardball." I mean, who HASN'T seen about 415 different "kids do sports!" comedies? But then I remembered one thing that buoyed my spirits and kept me interested: "Kicking & Screaming" has Will Ferrell in it.

If you're not already a fan of Will Ferrell's, then feel free to skip Kicking & Screaming forever. Despite the fact that it's laden with kids and soccer, the flick's not much more than a lightweight vehicle for Ferrell's distinct brand of goofball comedy. The guy's all-but-instantly likable. When he commands his little pals to wave goodbye to an adversary, he makes sure to say "No, literally wave goodbye!" It might not be Oscar Wilde or Monty Python, but it's still oddly amusing.

Kicking & Screaming earns several points in my book because it avoids the non-stop cuteness and overwhelming kid-pandering that occurs in so many Family Sports Comedies. In most movies of this ilk, we'd spend about 79% of the movie watching the children fall down, talk sass, roll their eyes, and act oh-so-cuuuute - but since this is a Will Ferrell movie, and Will Ferrell is arguably the hottest comedian on the planet right now, the filmmakers wisely opt to focus their cameras and their screenplay on the big dorky lug.

Ferrell plays Phil Weston, a sweet-natured suburbanite who's always lived in the shadow of his father's overwhelming competitiveness. As played (quite hilariously) by Robert Duvall, Buck Weston is a rough, gruff, and perpetually tough-to-please papa. Heck, even when Phil is able to enjoy the birth of his only son, Buck's right there next to him - welcoming the arrival of his second son. Needless to say, Phil is a walking, talking ball of insecurity.

So when the local soccer coach has a breakdown and skips town, Phil reluctantly assumes the role. He does so mainly in an attempt to compete with his father, which is not exactly the way that grown-ups should act. But despite his size and age, Phil's not exactly all that much of a grown-up. After realizing that even this pee-wee soccer league is a bit too much to handle, Phil turns to Mike Ditka for help. Yes, the real Mike Ditka. The gruff former football coach is able to give Phil some sound advice, but it's not until Phil discovers the blissful experience of coffee addiction that he's able to focus on what "really" matters. Which is to say he becomes precisely what he used to fear: his own father.

Families will undoubtedly have a good time with Kicking & Screaming. Sure, it's flimsy, silly, and fairly forgettable. It's also drably directed and edited in an exceedingly haphazard fashion. Yes, it (for some odd reason) doles out a few too many racial gags for a movie of this sort. (Yeah, little Asian kids sure are cute!) And, aside from a decent amount of chucks, yuks, and giggles, Kicking & Screaming is about as insubstantial as a movie can be without evaporating right off the screen - but much of it still works.

Ferrell carries the entire movie on his back, although it's always great to see the brilliant Robert Duvall kick back and get with the silliness. Mr. Ditka's extended cameo proves to be much more amusing than you might expect, and the kids manage to be realistically charming without becoming broad and blatant stereotypes. It's better than most of the kiddie sports comedies that hit the multiplexes, mainly because of Will Ferrell's inexhaustible good humor and strangely offbeat style of comedy. If your kids fell for Ferrell as an Elf, they'll absolutely adore him after Kicking & Screaming. The grown-ups with have a fairly good time, too, though I suspect we're all hoping to see Mr. Ferrell focus on something a little bit meatier the next time out.

Another feather in the flick's cap is its refusal to tow the PC line. It wouldn't be accurate to say that "Kicking & Screaming" has a mean streak, but it's also not beholden to lovey-dovey treacle or outright schmaltz. It's just subversive enough to keep the adults chuckling, and the kids, well, they'll just love the darn thing.

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originally posted: 05/14/05 05:39:51
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User Comments

12/21/08 Shaun Wallner Was'nt all that great! 2 stars
4/18/07 David Pollastrini pretty silly! 2 stars
11/24/06 cody a pretty cool comedy with good performance by wil ferrel, but very slow. 3 stars
7/19/06 drydock54321 fun to watch 3 stars
5/23/06 Kylie McDonald i just love it its really cool i cant say any more i love it 5 stars
5/15/06 Diane P usually love will ferrell but found this flat and boring 2 stars
1/16/06 gerthel excellent specially the presence of the italian players 5 stars
1/05/06 alisha lindblom it was a awesome movie 5 stars
12/28/05 Jeffril ann Montebon very entertaining movie 5 stars
11/13/05 Marcelo I tried really hard to keep up to the end. And why weren't there any brazilians ? 1 stars
10/13/05 Jake Harmless entertainment 4 stars
9/04/05 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne The Reefer Madness of coffee?!? 2 stars
7/29/05 The Man With No Name yawn. Is this the best hollywood can do? 2 stars
6/18/05 tony goog 5 stars
6/05/05 Lauren This movie was so funny, but not much else. 4 stars
5/24/05 Tim Ditka should've stuck to football! 1 stars
5/23/05 Nicole Eh...first half has some funny parts, second half not so much 3 stars
5/20/05 Christy Schultz How that sucked 2 stars
5/17/05 Neon Not worth a plug nickel 2 stars
5/17/05 Naka Not funny. 2 stars
5/14/05 wendy rogers I think this movie is great! I am now a fan of Wil Ferrell 4 stars
5/12/05 Woodman Think Little Giants but with soccer 3 stars
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  13-May-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 11-Oct-2005



Directed by
  Jesse Dylan

Written by
  Leo Benvenuti
  Steve Rudnick

  Will Ferrell
  Robert Duvall
  Mike Ditka
  Kate Walsh
  Jim Turner
  Jarrad Paul

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